Monday, April 30, 2018

The Flash Season 4, Episode 19: Fury Rogue

This week on The Flash we get a surprising subversion of expectations in Harry's storyline, the return of an old friend (sort of), a pointless new villain and one more reason for Marlize to betray her husband Clifford DeVoe.

On the Harry front, I was certain the writers were going to use his Thinking Cap addiction to turn him into a secondary version of The Thinker that Team Flash would have to deal with. That could have been an interesting twist, in the right hands. Instead they decided to go in the exact opposite direction. Instead of becoming an unstable brainiac, Harry's turning into a drooling moron. Meh.

This week we get another of actor Wentworth Miller's "final" appearances as some version of Captain Cold. Although it's always a treat to have him back, even for a guest shot, it feels like his farewell tour's been going on for a couple of years now.

Cold was an intriguing character when he was first introduced back in Season 1, as he was far more than just a run of the mill villain of the week. The writers also developed a fun relationship between Cold and Barry, as they became sort of "friendly enemies."

Annnnnd then Cold was torn out of The Flash and inserted into Legends Of Tomorrow. Cold, along with his pal Heat Wave, quickly became the highlights of that Legends' first season. It's just a shame that we never got to see the Barry/Cold relationship develop like it should have on The Flash.

For some reason, the writers decided to throw Siren-X into this episode as the villain of the week. I'm honestly not sure what purpose she served here, as she had little or nothing to do, and contributed absolutely nothing to the story. I get that she was someone for Citizen Cold to chase around on Earth-X, but there was no good reason to bring her to Earth-1, other than to muddle the plot.

Not to mention that her plan to avenge her fallen Earth-X comrades by killing off the Earth-1 CCPD was flimsy at best.

To absolutely no one's surprise, it looks like Killer Frost isn't gone after all. How shocking.

Lastly, two episodes ago in Null And Annoyed, Breacher offered Cisco his old job on Earth-19. This lead me to predict that Cisco would be getting the old "Will He Or Won't He Leave His Friends" plot that's been done a thousand times before. Welp, two whole episodes have gone by now and there hasn't been so much as a peep about that subplot. Did the writers forget about it already? Or are they saving it for the season finale?


The Plot:
Inside the secret Time Vault within STAR Labs, Harry has Gideon run a scan on his head. She reveals that his prolonged use of the dark matter-infused Thinking Cap has damaged his brain, causing him to slowly lose his intelligence.

Barry and Iris return to couples therapy with Dr. Finkle, where they discuss Ralph's recent "death." Iris tells Finkle she's coping as best she can, while Barry seems suspiciously nonchalant about it. He says he's experienced so much death in his life that one more doesn't make much of a difference to him. This worries Dr. Finkle, who tells him he'll eventually have grieve for his fallen friend (FORESHADOWING ALERT!).

Meanwhile, The Thinker and The Mechanic celebrate their recent victory over Team Flash. Marlize hopes that now that DeVoe's won, he'll relax and they can spend some time together as husband and wife. Unfortunately DeVoe's
 too consumed by his thoughts (heh), and immediately begins working on his new Master Plan. Another one?

At STAR Labs, Cisco's trying to think of a way to locate and defeat DeVoe, with no luck. He eyes Harry's discarded Thinking Cap, and decides to put it on. Harry walks in, sees him wearing the thing and snatches it off his head. He's terrified that if Cisco uses it he could lose his mind as well, so he 
makes up a lame excuse that it's calibrated for him only. Cisco suggests they start working on a second Cap, just for him. Harry can't think of a way to discourage him, so he reluctantly agrees to help.

Cut to Earth-X, the formerly Nazi-ruled planet from the big Crisis On Earth-X crossover event from earlier in the season. Citizen Cold (the Earth-X version of Captain Cold) is sneaking around in an old warehouse (of course). He sees Siren-X, the Earth-X version of Black Canary, and tells her the war's over and she and her Nazi pals lost.

This angers Siren-X, causing her to blast Cold with her sonic scream. Just then Cisco and Barry vibe in and whisk Cold out of harm's way. They ask him for his help, and when he hears Siren-X approaching, he agrees. Cisco vibes them all back to Earth-1. Unknown to them, Siren-X blasts the portal with her scream, holding it open just long enough for her to jump through as well.

Team Flash gives Cold a brief recap of the season, telling him all about DeVoe. They reveal that Fallout is the last of the bus metas, and they want to keep DeVoe from absorbing his powers as well. Barry says they intend to move Fallout to a remote ARGUS facility, where DeVoe will never find him. They've built a high-tech hazmat suit to contain Fallout's radiation powers during the move, but they need Cold's gun to cool him down in case he starts going critical. Cold agrees to help.

We then see Siren-X listening in from several blocks away, as she somehow uses her sonic powers to eavesdrop on Team Flash's conversation (?).

Meanwhile, Cisco completes his Thinking Cap 2.0 and eagerly tries it on. Harry purposefully overloads it, shorting it out. A disappointed Cisco examines it and says it'll take weeks to fix. Barry tells Cold about Ralph, and how he feels responsible for his death. Cold, who's something of a therapist himself, tells Barry he needs to grieve for Ralph, then accept his loss and move on. Barry says ain't nobody got time for grieving right now.

Team Flash loads Fallout— outfitted in his snazzy new containment suit— into a modified, high tech semi trailer for the transfer. Joe drives the rig, while Cold, Caitlin and Fallout ride in the back. Barry scouts their rural route at superspeed. He then zips into the semi and reports that everything's going smoothly.

Right on cue, the semi rises into the air, as everyone inside becomes weightless. Suddenly the truck crashes violently back to the ground. Barry and Cold exit and see DeVoe standing in the middle of the road, using Null's powers to disable the truck. Barry uses the Sonic Scepter to blast DeVoe with a barrage of sound waves. Unfortunately he uses Elongated Man's rubbery powers to withstand the attack.

Suddenly all three of them are bowled over by a blast from Siren-X. DeVoe quickly opens a portal and escapes. Instead of attacking Siren-X at superspeed, Barry freezes, as his grief apparently picks that moment to catch up with him.

Inside the truck, Fallout begins freaking out, which causes his radiation powers to ramp up. He says he's getting the hell out of there, as Caitlin tries to stop him. He opens the door of the trailer, and sees Siren-X holding Joe hostage with Cold's freeze gun.

Back at STAR Labs, Cisco's figured out a way to fix his Thinking Cap, much to Harry's horror. He grabs the Cap from Cisco and smashes it to pieces. When Cisco asks what the hell's wrong with him, Harry's forced to confess. He takes Cisco to the Time Vault and shows him the results of his brain scan. Cisco scolds Harry for being an idiot and frying his brain with dark matter, but says Team Flash will do whatever it takes to cure him.

DeVoe returns to his lair, furious that lost Fallout despite all his calculations. Marlize says he considered every possibility except emotion, and that's he's lost the ability to feel. He pretty much pats her on the head, says her job is to assist him, and he'll do the thinking for both of them, thanks. Somehow she manages to control herself and say, "Of course, my Love."

At STAR Labs, Cold addresses the fact that Barry froze in the field. He tells him he needs to start grieving for Ralph so he can hurry up and move past it. Cold gives him a big speech about how he remembers every single person he killed during the war on Earth-X, and how their deaths affected him.

Meanwhile, Siren-X brings Joe, Caitlin and Fallout to CCPD HQ. She says nothing can bring back her fallen Earth-X comrades, but maybe killing a bunch of cops on an alternate Earth will make her feel better (?). She forces Fallout to take off the helmet of his hazmat suit, which floods the room with radiation, knocking out all the cops. For some reason she's completely unaffected.

Iris detects Fallout's radiation spike, and Barry and Cold speed to the CCPD. Siren-X begins blasting Fallout, causing his radiation to rise to critical levels. If he's not stopped, he'll explode and destroy the entire city. Once again, Barry has the chance to stop her, but freezes as he thinks of Ralph. Cold gives Barry a Patented The CW Pep Talk™, and he eventually gets up and knocks Siren-X across the room. Caitlin and Cold then use their freeze guns on Fallout, cooling him to safe levels.

Later Joe finds Barry in his old office, finally grieving properly for Ralph. He tells Barry that what happened wasn't his fault.

Back at STAR Labs, Iris says Fallout's been successfully transferred to ARGUS' super secret off-the-grid facility, and is hopefully safe from DeVoe. Cisco gives Cold a mini-breach unit, so he can visit Earth-1 whenever he wants. Cold bids everyone a fond farewell and returns to Earth-X.

Caitlin tells Iris she misses having Killer Frost inside her (get your mind outta the gutter!). She runs some tests on herself, and detects Frost's faint presence. She says now all they have to do is figure out how to reactivate her, probably in time for the season finale.

Barry and Iris visit Dr. Finkle again. This time Barry's finally able to open up and share his feelings about Ralph's death.

Cut to the secret ARGUS compound, where Fallout's being kept. Unfortunately we see that DeVoe's hacked into the allegedly off-the-grid facility and knows exactly where he is.

• As I've mentioned before, DeVoe's plan was a damned clever one. He used his exceptional smarts to cause the creation of the twelve bus metas, just so he could absorb all of their powers and become virtually unstoppable.

What I don't get is how he knew just what powers the bus metas would get from their exposure to dark matter. As it turns out, each of them was gifted with a very specific and useful power. But they could have just as easily developed bizarre and impractical abilities, such as the power to change the color of objects, fly six inches off the ground, or grow freakishly long arm hair. 

Did his plan somehow involve figuring out who'd get what power, and he manipulated them to make sure they were all on the bus at the same time?

• This week DeVoe tells Marlize he doesn't have time for mushy love stuff, as he wants to get started on "The Enlightenment" right away. He then pulls up plans for some kind of bomb or space capsule or something.

Wait... DeVoe's cooking up ANOTHER scheme now? I thought creating the bus metas and absorbing all their powers was his Master Plan. Now he's got a second one?

Eh, I dunno. There're only three more episodes left in the season. Seems a bit late to start up this Master Plan business all over again. Why weren't we told about this Part B months ago?

And what the heck is DeVoe's Enlightenment anyway? Based on the fact that he's building some kind of contraption, I'm gonna guess he'll use it to absorb the minds of everyone on Earth, making him the most intelligent person on the planet. That, or it'll download his mind into everyone else's head, so he in effect becomes humanity.

• This week we get yet another mention (but no appearance) of Tracy Brand. She was a temporary member of Team Flash in Season 3, and helped the Gang take down Savitar. She was also sweet on HR, which may explain why she's been keeping her distance, what with him being a doppelganger of Harry and all.

• Fallout's real name is Neil Borman. That name sounds familiar for some reason. I'm wondering if it's supposed to be a shoutout to Niels Borh? He was a Danish physicist who won the Nobel Prize in 1922 for his work in atomic structure and quantum theory. The names aren't exact, but they're close enough to make me think it might be an in-joke.

• At one point Barry explains the situation to Captain Cold-X. Cold nods and replies, "Sounds like a plan, Barry. You know how I feel about plans." Hmmm.

In several episodes, the Earth-1 Captain Cold famously lived by the motto, “Make the plan. Execute the plan. Expect the plan to go off the rails. Throw away the plan.” It sounds like Cold-X lives by the same code. Apparently people living on completely different Earths develop the exact same catchphrases.

• I've been beating this dead horse for weeks now, so I might as well flog it a bit more. 

Whenever DeVoe transfers his mind into a new body, he then speaks in their natural accent. He normally speaks with a South African accent, but when he occupied the body of Izzy Bowen, he spoke in her characteristic Southern drawl. 

Then in Null And Annoyed, DeVoe transfers his mind to Ralph's body, and immediately begins speaking like him. He then uses Ralph's stretchy powers to morph into a reasonable facsimile of his original body, and instantly begins speaking in his original accent again.

It's like the writers think a person's accent is intrinsically tied to their body. That just doesn't seem right to me. Normally I speak like the Southern Indiana hillbilly that I am, but if I had to I could do a passable British, German or French accent. It's my brain that drives the way I speak, not my body.

This week DeVoe's still inhabiting Ralph's body. Note that he's using Ralph's pliable powers to impersonate his old self, and is using his South African accent. But then at one point DeVoe confronts Barry, and tries to get under his skin by saying, "Right, Rookie?" in Ralph's voice and accent.

This completely contradicts everything the writers have previously established about bodies and accents. Apparently DeVoe CAN speak in any accent he wants, regardless of what body he's currently inhabiting. Make up your minds, writers!

• Speaking of DeVoe's powers, I'm still not quite clear how they work. When he absorbs a bus meta's powers, does he consume their mind as well? I feel like that's what should happen during the process, but so far the show's been pretty vague about this particular detail.

There's a possible clue in this episode, when DeVoe momentarily slips into Ralph's voice and calls Barry "Rookie." That would imply that Ralph's memories are rattling around in DeVoe's head.

On the other hand, DeVoe used a Samuroid head to spy on Team Flash for several episodes, so he could have just overheard Ralph teasing Barry with that term.

See what I mean? There's no definite answer here!

• Harry enters the Time Vault to have Gideon run some scans on his head. Once again, the production crew's wide angle lens gets a real workout during this scene. I have a feeling this set is probably about the size of my bathroom, but that lens magically turns it into a vast interior space.

They use this particular trick on a weekly basis over on Legends Of Tomorrow, to make their Waverider sets look much, much bigger than they really are.

• At one point Cisco's working in his lab and sees Ralph's discarded Whoopie Cushion. This floods him with emotions, as he wistfully remembers his fallen teammate. 

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say this is the first time in TV history that a character's gotten all misty-eyed over a Whoopie Cushion.

By the way, I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't point out that this cushion appears to be white, while the one we saw Ralph holding in Null And Annoyed was orange. I suppose it's possible he had more than one, but...

• Look at this scene of Team Flash prepping for the big mission to transfer Fallout. Notice anything about it? How about the fact that once again, Barry's not wearing his motherfraking mask. He just revealed his secret identity to Fallout! Goddamit Barry!

Honestly, at this point I don't know why he bothers with the mask at all. He might as well fish around in Iris' sewing basket, get out her stitch-ripper, tear the goddamn mask of his costume and flush it down the effing toilet!

• During the mission to transfer Fallout to an ARGUS facility, the semi truck is lifted into the air and then smashed to the ground. Barry and Cold zoom out the back of the truck, looking for the cause. DeVoe then opens a portal behind them and steps out of it.

Note that the portal makes a very loud, sizzling energy sound. Somehow Barry and Cold don't hear it though, as they both keep staring intently in the opposite direction.

DeVoe stands there for a few seconds, seemingly amazed that these two superheroes are completely unaware of his presence. He finally says, "Mr. Allen. As usual you're a step behind me."

Then and only then do Barry and Cold hear DeVoe and whip around to face him.

How the hell did they not hear the whooshing sound of the portal opening and closing? It can't be that it was too far away to be heard, because they react to DeVoe's voice, and he was nowhere near as loud as the portal.

Is this one of those deals where the audience can hear a particular sound, but the characters can't? Or is it just bad writing and editing?

• Barry uses the Sonic Scepter to fire off a blast of sound waves at DeVoe. Unfortunately, DeVoe uses the Elongated Man's stretchy powers to withstand the assault.

Eh... I don't think so. I will accept that Ralph's rubbery body (which DeVoe is now inhabiting) is immune to sonic blasts, but look at that scene! How the hell do DeVoe's feet stay firmly planted on the road like that? He should have been flung backwards a thousand feet by the blast! Did DeVoe glue his shoes to the road when we weren't looking?

I suppose it's slightly possible that DeVoe used Null's gravity powers to keep his feet planted on the road, but that seems like a stretch (see what I did there?).

• Right after Barry's Scepter attack fails, Siren-X shows up and knocks everyone— including DeVoe— on their collective asses with her sonic scream. While Barry and Cold try to shake off the effects of her blast, DeVoe opens a portal and gets the hell out of there.

Um... so why exactly did he turn tail and run? Siren-X has the exact same powers as the Sonic Scepter, and we literally just saw him withstand a blast from that! There's nothing she could do that would hurt him. So why'd he run away like a little girl?

• Poor Marlize. She finally gets her beloved husband back in his original form (sort of), but then is horrified when she discovers he's now a cold, calculating emotionless automaton.

She's even more appalled when he basically tells her not to worry her pretty little head with any problems, and to stay in the kitchen while he takes care of his plan.

In the coming weeks, I fully expect her to inadvertently help out Team Flash by turning on her now-monstrous husband and destroying his plan.

• For the most part the Siren-X effects are pretty well done, and a decent visualization of her sonic powers.

There are a couple of scenes though where her sonic blast is tinted brown for some reason, which makes it look for all the world like she's projectile vomiting!

• I'm puzzled by the CCPD scene. Siren-X marches Fallout into CCPD Headquarters, and forces him to take off his protective helmet. The second he does, all the cops in the building are overcome by his radioactive output and pass out. Only Joe, Caitlin and Siren-X herself remain standing.

Joe and Caitlin get a pass because they're both immune. Before the mission, Caitlin injected Team Flash with a "cocktail of atomized DTPA and potassium iodide" to protect them from absorbing too much radiation. But what's Siren-X's excuse? Did she force Caitlin to inject her between scenes? Or is she just naturally immune to radiation?

• Speaking or radiation... Siren-X begins blasting Fallout, causing him to emit dangerous levels of radiation. Harry monitors the situation from STAR Labs, and at one point we see Fallout's energy rise to over 9,000 rads! Yikes!

OK, I'm not a scientist, but based on a few minutes of googling, there're a few problems with this scene.

First of all, Team Flash is measuring Fallout's radiation output in rads. A rad is a unit of absorbed radiation, equal to 100 ergs of energy absorbed by one gram of matter. In other words, it's the amount of radiation absorbed by the human body. 

This would be fine if Harry was detecting how much radiation Team Flash is being exposed to. But he seems to be using rads to describe Fallout's radiation output, which is a completely different thing. The radioactivity of a substance or object is measured in becquerels, which refers to the number of nuclei that decay per unit of time. Radioactivity can also be measure in units called curies.

I'm pretty sure they're mixing up their units here. It's like saying you have an 8.34 pound jug of water, instead of just calling it a gallon.

Whether rads is the proper term or not, it seems like everyone in CCPD should be dead at the end of this scene. 400 rads generally causes acute radiation syndrome in humans. Exposure to 1000 rads over a period of a few hours will cause serious illness, with "poor outlook." Anything over 1000 rads is almost invariably fatal. Fallout was outputting almost ten times that!

• When Harry tells Cisco about his condition, we get a pretty good glimpse at the wall of the Time Vault. It looks surprisingly bad. The little domes look like they were very sloppily glued to the wall, then hurriedly painted over. 

Also, I assume the domes are supposed to be arranged in straight lines, but they're all way, way off. Look at the ones to the left of Cisco's face! It's like they didn't even use any kind of guideline and just tried to eyeball a straight line! Sloppy!

• So what happened to Siren-X? In the third act, Barry speed punches her across the room at CCPD and that's the last we ever see of her. She's never mentioned again, and Cold returns to Earth-X by himself.

Did Team Flash imprison her in their Secret Super Jail? Did Cold send her back to the Earth-X authorities when we weren't looking? Or did Barry kill her when he punched her?

This Week's Best Lines:
Caitlin: (to Cold) "You're getting married? That's so exciting!"
Cold: (looking at Barry and Cisco) "I figured if you two could make it, so could we."
(Barry and Cisco look puzzled and uncomfortable)
Barry: "What?"
Cisco: "No, we..."
Cold: "I tease."

Harry: (as he tests the second Thinking Cap on Cisco) "Okay, here we go. Connection established."
(The Cap begins glowing)
Cisco: "Hmm, tingles. Yeah. Kinda feels like my conditioner!"

Caitlin: (discussing Killer Frost with Cold) "We were starting to become close lately. And I know how crazy that sounds considering we're talking about someone who actually lived inside of me."
Cold: "I'm on an alt-Earth transporting a human bomb with an escort that can literally run back to the future. Your story is the least crazy thing I've heard all day."

DeVoe: "Mr. Allen. As usual, you're a step behind me."
Cold: "Yay, puns. You Earth-1 villains sure are a hoot."

Barry: "Okay, well, what do you know about Laurel Lance's doppelganger? And why was she hunting you?"
Cold: "That was Siren-X, all that's left of the Reichsmen. An elite assassin gone mad, and she is relentless. Carried a torch for Dark Arrow, unrequited, so she's none too pleased with those responsible for his death, present company included."
Iris: "So she has the same powers as Black Siren? The Laurel Lance of Earth-2."
Cold: "And Earth-1's Laurel Lance?"
Barry: "She died."
Cisco: "She was the second Black Canary after her sister, who also died and came back, but as White Canary, cause..."
Barry: "Cisco!"
Cisco: "It's complicated."

A Tale Of Two Movies

I hate to kick a studio when they're down, but take a look at this:

In its first THREE DAYS of release, Marvel Studios' Avengers: Infinity War grossed almost as much as Warner Bros. Justice League movie did in its entire theatrical run! Holy Crap!

Obviously Infinity War will have no problem blasting past the billion dollar mark. It would not surprise me if it passes $2 billion before it's done. That's absolutely amazing. And a cryin' shame for fans of Justice League.

Sure, Justice League's $657 million worldwide gross looks pretty good at first glance. But the movie reportedly had a budget of $300 million, and some insiders say it was far more. Due to marketing and other hidden costs, movies generally need to make twice their production budget before they break even. That means Justice League had to gross a whopping $600 million before it could start turning a profit. So basically it made around $57 million for Warner Bros., against their $300 million investment. Ouch!

That makes me sad. It’s the freakin’ Justice League! The team that features all of DC's best and most powerful heroes! They're the DC equivalent to the Avengers! And the two movies are virtually identical— both feature a group of superheroes who team up to fight a big purple space man. There's absolutely no reason why a Justice League film shouldn't have made the same amount of cash (or more!) that Infinity War's currently raking in. 

Well, no reason other than the fact that Marvel Studios had a detailed and coherent plan and took their time setting up a well-crafted and defined cinematic universe, slowly building upon it over the past ten years, while Warner Bros. decided they wanted a piece of that sweet shared universe money NOW, and rushed headlong into a hastily-slapped together team up movie.

At this point I think Warner Bros. should just sell the DCEU to Marvel, and let THEM start making their movies!

Last Day. Year Of The City: 2018

Michael Anderson, director of the 1976 scifi classic Logan's Run, died last week at age 98.

I guess Anderson didn't get renewed in Carousel after all.

What? Too soon?

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 3, Episode 16: I, Ava

There's a lot going on in this week's jam-packed Legends Of Tomorrow, as the writers realize they've got six hours worth of story left, but only two episodes to go in the season.

First up there's the startling revelation regarding Agent Sharpe. Back in No Country For Old Dads, Rip Hunter let it slip that Sharpe had a deep, dark secret. One so earth-shattering that no one could ever find out what it is.

I predicted they'd take a page from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and we'd find out that Agents Sharpe herself was actually the mysterious Sixth Totem, which had somehow taken human form. Much the way Buffy's sister Dawn wasn't really a human girl, but a mystical key who looked like a teen.

Welp, I was completely wrong about that, but honestly my theory was about ten times more interesting than the answer we got. Just three short episodes later, the big secret's been revealed Agent's Sharpe's a clone! (cue sound of chirping crickets) 

That... that's it? That's the senses-shattering secret, that White Canary can never know? Meh. What a letdown. Somehow I was expecting something a bit more spectacular. 

Actually this revelation could turn out OK, if the writers handle it well. It's just too bad we're finding out about it now, with just two more episodes left in the season! There's no way in hell they'll be able to give this storyline the room it needs to breathe, while they're trying to wrap up the Mallus arc and conclude Vixen's lame plot.

Speaking of Vixen, if ever there was a character who was ready for an exit, it's her. Her entire backstory is dull, flat and needlessly convoluted. Each week she sits around moaning about the fact that she's in love with Steel, but if she stays with him in the present, she'll alter her past in 1943 and wipe out her entire family. 

I can't remember being less interested in a storyline in my life. The sooner she goes back to the 40s and leaves the show, the better. 

On the plus side, there was some fun interplay in this episode between Heat Wave and Zari, as she patiently tries to teach him how to use his Fire Totem, and explain why she's fasting. As near as I can tell, she's the first and only live action superhero who observes Ramadan. I'm sure the writers added that little fact to the episode to teach the audience that all Muslims aren't big scary terrorists.


The Plot:
On the Waverider, White Canary tells the Legends she's leaving the ship for some much needed R&R (to recover from her breakup with Agent Sharpe). She appoints Vixen temporary captain.

Vixen finds Heat Wave in the rec room, and wants to train him into how to use his new Fire Totem. Suddenly Steel calls Vixen to the bridge, so she asks fellow Totem bearer Zari to train him (much to her chagrin).

On the bridge, Gideon reports that Mari McCabe, grandaughter of Vixen and the present day holder of that title, has been injured and is recovering in a Detroit hospital. Vixen realizes that by staying away from the 1940s for too long, she's altered the timeline, preventing her granddaughter from inheriting her Spirit Totem.

Vixen announces she's going to visit Mari, but Steel says interacting with her own granddaughter is a bad idea, and could mangle the timeline even more. He says he and Wally will go to Detroit and make sure Mari's OK.

Meanwhile, Canary's about to leave the Waverider when Time Bureau Agent Gary Green teleports onboard the ship. He tells her he's worried about Agent Sharpe, as no one's seen her in days. Canary sighs and realizes she'll get no vacation time this week.

Canary, Gary and Atom teleport to the Time Bureau. They bust into Sharpe's office and look for clues. Atom hacks into her computer and sees her personnel files have been erased— by someone from the Waverider. They root through her trash and spot a birthday card from Sharpe's parents in Fresno. Canary says that's the most likely place to search next.

In Detroit, Steel and Wally talk with Mari's father, who assures them his daughter's OK. While there they spot Kuasa, and naturally assume she's there to kill her sister Mari. They run through the hospital after her, and eventually corner her in a supply room. Surprisingly, she tells them she's there to protect Mari, not hurt her.

In Fresno, Canary, Atom and Gary arrive at the Sharpe home. They're greeted by Pam and Randy Sharpe, an ideal couple who're almost too perfect to be true. After some small talk about Ava, Canary trips them up on their facts and realizes they're not who they say they are. The "Sharpes" reveal they're really a couple of actors who were hired years ago to pose as Ava's parents.

The puzzled Legends + Gary leave Fresno and return to the Time Bureau. There they run into Agent Sharpe, who's surprised to see them. When they ask where she's been, she lies and says she spent a few days visiting her parents. Sharpe then excuses herself and hurries off. Canary reveals that she somehow stole Sharpe's time courier, to help in finding out what's going on.

Back in Detroit, Kuasa takes Steel and Wally to Mari's gym, where they discuss the fact that Nora Darhk now has the Spirit Totem. Kuasa says she isn't a fan of her sister Mari, but would rather see the Spirit Totem go to her than the Darhks, and agrees to help the Legends.

Canary, Atom and Gary do more digging at the Time Bureau. They discover that the year 2213 is a "no fly zone," meaning it's off limits to all Time Bureau agents. Canary says that's no doubt where they'll find answers, but Gary says there's no way to get there. Access to that year is restricted to everything except the Time Bureau mothership. Cut to Canary and the others flying away in the stolen mothership! Agent Sharpe sees the ship take off and follows (Um... how?).

Canary and the others land in 2213. Oddly enough, the future doesn't seem all different from now. The only oddity is the hundreds of public servants and soldiers who all look identical to Agent Sharpe! They see a holographic sign advertising the versatile "AVA" clone, manufactured by— what else?— the Ava Corporation.

Back in 2018, Steel, Wally and Kuasa hash out a plan. Wally wants to simply ambush the Darhks and use his speed to yoink the Totem from them. Kuasa says that won't work, for reasons. She proposes using Steel to lure the Darhks to her, and somehow convinces Wally to return to the Waverider.

Canary and the others enter the AVA Corporation HQ, which must not have very tight security. They wander around until they find a clone lab, and see dozens of Ava copies being made. One of the Avas wakes up and tries to capture the group. Canary knocks it out before it can sound an alarm.

Kuasa injects Steel with a serum that dampens his powers, claiming this will help him sell the idea that he's her captive. Sure, why not? Seconds later, Damien and Nora Darhk appear, though gods know how they knew when and where to find Kuasa. Instead of fighting them, Kuasa double crosses Steel by offering him to the Darhks in exchange for the Totem. For some reason, Nora gives it to her and Kuasa leaves.

Nora, who's now fully possessed by Mallus, threatens to kill Steel unless he brings the rest of the Totems to her. For no good reason, she then saunters off. Damien then confesses to Steel that his plan isn't going the way he intended. Now that Mallus has possessed Nora, he feels he's in danger of losing his beloved daughter. Steel encourages him to keep talking, hoping to bond with Darhk so he doesn't kill him.

Canary, Atom and Gary are approached by the real Agent Sharpe, who's come to 2213 looking for them. She sees herself being replicated in the clone lab and passes out from shock. When she comes to, she begins asking what the hell's going on, and why there are dozens of her inside the lab. She then starts wondering if she's a clone as well.

Back on the Waverider, Kuasa appears and gives the Spirit Totem back to Vixen. She says she traded it for Steel, which horrifies Vixen. Kuasa says it's all part of her plan, as now she and Vixen can team up against the Darhks.

Canary and company try to escape the lab, but are stopped by an entire army of armored Ava clones. Agent Sharpe gets an idea— she finds an army uniform somewhere, puts it on and pretends to be a clone. She then marches Canary, Atom and Gary out of the building, saying she's taking them to be executed.

Suddenly the knocked-out Ava clone wakes up and says Agent Sharpe isn't one of them. The Ava army attacks, and Canary and Sharpe fight back-to-back again, somehow managing to knock out all the clones.

In 2018, Nora realizes her father's confiding in Steel and knocks out Damien. Suddenly Vixen and Wally appear and confront her. Wally attacks, but Nora's somehow able to drain his speed from him (?). Vixen tries to use her Totem, but finds that Nora's corrupted it and she's now under her control.

Kuasa enters and frees Steel. Vixen's then able to overcome Nora's magic and control her Totem. Vixen, Kuasa, Steel and Wally then demand Nora surrender. Unfortunately Nora's not intimidated, and uses her Mallus powers to rip the Water Totem out of Kuasa's body, killing her. She and Damien then teleport away.

Back on the Waverider, Zari and Heat Wave— who are still training— feel their fellow Totem-bearer Kuasa die. Heat Wave says he needs a drink.

Everyone returns to the ship. Atom uses the memory-zapper on Gary, so he won't remember anything that happened in 2213. Steel tries to comfort Vixen after her granddaugter's death. She tells him she's been away from home too long and it's time to go back. He offers to go with her, but she tells him they're through. 
Vixen enters the jumpship and programs it to go to 1992 Zambesi, in order to save her family.

Canary and Agent Sharpe reconnect. They figure out that the only person who could have wiped Sharpe's records from the Time Bureau is Rip Hunter himself. They vow to find out why.

• As you no doubt already figured out, the title of this episode refers to Isaac Asimov's classic sci-fi novel, I, Robot. Except the Avas aren't robots, but clones. So it doesn't really make any sense in this context.

• At one point Steel and Kuasa argue over their plan in front of Damien Dark. Damien watches with interest, and gleefully says, "This is better than The Brave And The Bold!"

Obviously this is the name of a soap opera that exists in the Arrowverse (and one that Damien regularly watches), but it's also a little in-joke for DC Comic fans. The Brave And The Bold is a comic that's been published off and on since the Silver Age. It's content varied over the years, but for the bulk of its run it was a team-up book, pairing up both well known and obscure superheroes.

• Giving Heat Wave the Fire Totem seems like a no-brainer, since, you know, he's a pyromaniac and all. It'd be cool if the writers let him keep it, since then he'd have some actual powers, rather than just being a guy with a flame thrower. I have a feeling the Totems will all be going away in the season finale though. With the possible exception of Vixen's Spirit Totem.

• Speaking of Heat Wave, how the hell does he not weigh 900 pounds and have to use a wiping stick when he goes to the bathroom? For a couple seasons now it's been a running joke that he's constantly eating, and he literally does nothing but stuff his face all through this episode. At one point Zari even notes that he's on his fourth lunch!

Being an antihero like Heat Wave doesn't seem like it'd burned a lot of calories, and he doesn't seem like the type to hit the gym. So he ought to be wearing a muumuu and riding around in a Rascal scooter by now.

From past episodes we know there's a food replicator onboard the Waverider. Maybe Gideon programmed it to make extremely low-cal foods that still taste like the real thing.

• Gideon displays a newspaper article detailing Mari McCabe's accident. If you look closely, you can see the prop department wrote an actual story for the article, rather than just mocking up some dummy text! That was a lot of work for something that appeared onscreen for two seconds. Well done, guys!

• Canary, Atom and Gary sneak into Agent Sharpe's office, and discover someone's erased all her personal files. 

I don't quite understand the Time Bureau's file system here. For some reason each record is displayed in three separate columns. Ava's files are listed in the first column, but the second and third ones are blank. I guess that means they're missing? Why's everything in triplicate? Are the duplicates supposed to be on backup drives?

I have a feeling this was never meant to make sense, and the prop guys had to mock up a high tech, futuristic computer filing system in about ten minutes, so they came up with this.

• Canary roots through Agent Sharpe's trash, and finds a birthday card from her (fake) parents. If you look at the address, it appears Sharpe lives in Star City, which is located in the U.S.A. Hmm. What happened to the state? I guess there must be just one Star City in the Arrowverse, and the Post Office knows what state it's in.

DC's infamous fake cities have always been a headache for their comic books, as well as their movies and TV shows. Where's Metropolis supposed to be? Is it near New York City? IS it supposed to be New York? What about Gotham City? Is it a Chicago analogue? Where's Smallville? Coast City? Who the hell knows? 

The Marvel Universe never had this problem, as the bulk of their comics (and many of the MCU movies) take place in good old New York City.

• I loved this scene, in which Canary, Atom and Gary are in Fresno, and effortlessly walk through a dimensional portal into the Time Bureau. It's a very slick effect that doesn't call attention to itself, so you don't even realize anything out of the ordinary happened at first. It's all very well done. Kudos, Effects Team!

• Once again I'd like to point out how interesting and compelling Kuasa is, and how she's better than her granny Vixen in every measurable sense. I was really hoping they'd give Vixen the boot and replace her with Kuasa, but after the events of this episode that seems unlikely. Too bad.

• Canary, Atom and Gary steal the Time Bureau's mothership and pilot it to the no fly zone in 2213 Vancouver. Just like the Waverider always does, the ship's fully visible while it's in flight, but then activates its cloaking device as it lands. I've never understood this.

Why do these ships have cloaking devices in the first place? Because the crew's afraid the local populace might panic if they see a futuristic time ship land in their vicinity, that's why. So why not cloak it when it's in flight as well? Wouldn't the public freak out just as much if they saw an advanced ship flying overhead?

Maybe they never bother cloaking while in-flight because they assume everyone has their nose in their cell phone, and never looks up?

• By the way, the Time Bureau designated 2213 as a no fly zone, meaning time travelers are forbidden from Time Agents (and anyone else) are forbidden from travelling to that particular year.

We're told that "access to that year is restricted to everything except the Time Bureau mothership." When Canary and the others hear this, they simply break into the Time Bureau, steal their mothership and fly to 2213. When Agent Sharpe finds out, she immediately follows.

Um... just how the hell did she do that? If the only way to get there is in the mothership, and the Legends stole it, then how'd Sharpe travel there? Whoops!

I guess maybe we could say that as Time Bureau director, Sharpe probably has some sort of code she can punch in to allow ANY ship to travel to 2213. I suppose we could say that, but I don't see why we should.

• So why is the no fly zone located in Vancouver, of all places? Surely it couldn't be because that's where all the Arrowverse shows are filmed, so all the crew had to do was walk a few steps outside the studio and commence to shooting? Nah, no TV series would be that blatant about their cheapness!

• Isn't it amazing how the Vancouver of 2213 doesn't look all that different from the Vancouver of 2018! Funny how that worked out, eh?

• In 2213, the gang spots a holographic billboard advertising Ava clones (Version 3.0!).

The accompanying text goes by so fast you don't really have time to think about the stuff it implies. Like "Easy Financing." Um... so you actually buy the Ava clones? Doesn't that seem kind of... slavey? Apparently at some point in the next 195 years, the concept of people owning people comes back into vogue.

 The sign also touts that the Ava clones are "fully functional." Yeah, there's only one thing that could mean!

Lastly, the "Completely Safe*" line seems a bit ominous. Especially since it's followed by an asterisk (which doesn't go to any visible disclaimer!). That's never a good sign.

• Steel and Kuasa come up with a plan to lure the Darhks to Vixen's hideout. Steel poses as Kuasa's captive, while she pretends to offer him to the Darhks in exchange for the Spirit Totem.

Before the Dahrks arrive though, Kuasa injects Steel with a serum that cancels out his powers. A couple things here.

First of all, where the holy hell did Kuasa get her hands on a serum that prevents Steel from powering up? Is that something you can pick up at the local CVS?

Secondly, why in the name of Zeus' Mighty Nose Hair would he allow her to do such a thing? She makes up some lame excuse about how actually being powerless will help him sell the lie, but... it's some pretty weak sauce.

Look, I get it. Those CGU Steel effects aren't cheap, plus his reflective chrome texture likely takes forever to render. So I understand why they didn't want him using his power. But there had to be a less... ridiculous way of keeping him from steeling up. Why not just have Damien wave his hand and magically suppress Steel's powers? Boom, done! And that idea's 1000% less stupid as well.

• Hats off to Neal McDonough, who's wonderful as Damien Darhk in this episode. McDonough's always a hoot, but he was particularly good this week, as he somehow played Darhk as intimidating and yet goofy at the same time. I'm going to miss him on the show, when he's inevitably killed off for the umpteenth time.

• I mentioned it in the plot summary, but it's worth repeating. When Kuasa says she'll trade Steel for the Spirit Totem, Nora instantly hands it over to her. Without so much as a second thought!

WHAT. THE. HELL??? All season long the Darhks have been after the six Totems, and now that they finally got one, Nora tosses it away as if it's meaningless to her. I honestly don't understand her motivation here. 

• Wow, the future ain't what it used to be. In addition to 2213 possibly featuring slavery, there are also apparently no lawyers or courtrooms in the future. At one point Agent Sharpe poses as an Ava clone, and says she's taking Canary and the others to be executed. Their alleged crime? Trespassing! Gulp! Now that's cruel and unusual punishment!

• Hands down, the best part of this episode were the scenes of Zari reluctantly bonding with fellow Totem bearer Heat Wave. It's taken all season, but little by little Zari's starting to grow on me.

• At the end of the episode, Nora Darhk decides she done screwing around, and uses her magic to yank the Water Totem out of Kuasa's chest. For some reason, the horrified Legends completely freeze, and just stand there watching this grim tableau.

It's too bad none of them have any superpowers they could have used to, oh, I don't know, punch Nora in the face and knock her out to keep her from killing their sort of ally.

Also, Kuasa kept her Totem inside her body? 

This Week's Best Lines:
Canary: "I am not just walking out on the team, Ray."
Atom: "She says, as she's literally walking away."

Canary: "Someone's gonna have to fill in the role of captain while I'm gone."
Atom: (pompously) "Oh, well, uh, I hadn't exactly thought I'd I'd pick up the mantle this soon, but..."
Canary: "I'm putting Amaya in charge. (to Vixen) Good luck."
Steel: (to Atom) "Sorry about that, big guy."

Heat Wave: (to Vixen) "I got a new trick. Pull my finger."
Vixen: "What?"

Heat Wave: "Pull my finger."
Zari: "Do NOT pull his finger. Let's just say hot dogs aren't the only thing he's learned how to light on fire."
(I dunno... surely they had "pull my finger" back in the 1940s, where Vixen's from?)

Gary: (discussing Agent Sharpe's disappearance) "She hasn't been to work in a few days, which is very unlike her. I've already been covering for her, I forged her signature twice. What am I supposed to do next? Put on a wig and pantsuit and pretend I'm her?"
Canary. "No. Don't do that."

Canary: "Wow, she must've really wanted to go off the radar."
Gary: "Wait, you think Director Sharpe erased her own file? That's crazy!"
Canary: "Yeah, so is putting on a wig and impersonating your boss, Gary."
Gary: "I didn't actually do it!"

Steel: "You're sure you saw Kuasa?"
Wally: "Yeah."
Steel: "Just be on the lookout for a badass in a leather outfit. Or a suspicious puddle of water."

Atom: (confronting Sharpe's fake parents) "Why in the world would you agree to be a part of such a charade?"
Fake Mrs. Sharpe: "Do you know how hard it is to get an acting job in Fresno?"

Heat Wave: "Fasting?"
Zari: "Yeah, I'm not eating."
Heat Wave: "Trying to lose some fat, huh?"
Zari: "No, I love my body. I'm trying to observe Ramadan."
Heat Wave: "So observe it on a full stomach."
(I'm with Heat Wave! Why the hell would any god care if you eat or not?)

Atom: "What kind of person invents a fake family and backstory?"
Gary: "Well, when I was a kid, I told my friends my dad was an orthodontist. It sounded much cooler than dentist."

Gary: (seeing a future populated with Agent Sharpe clones) "I had a dream like this once."
Canary: "Yeah, me too, but mine involved less clothing."
Gary: "Mine too!"

Gary: "It makes sense they'd clone Ava. She is the perfect woman."
Canary: "Oh, calm down, Gary. She's... okay."

Gary: "Is it too late to mention my fear of things covered in sheets?"

Damien: (entering Vixen's hideout) "And what's with these vigilantes and their dark spaces It's like they're afraid of that healthy bronze look. "
(He glances over at his very pale daughter Nora)
Damien: "Oh, i...I... I didn't mean you. I... you look great, honey."

Gary: (tying up the Ava clone) "Is that too tight? I can never tell. Not... heh... that I have experience tying people up, 'cause I-I-I don't!"

Damien: (to Steel) "I'm sorry, it it's not you. It it's me. Torture just doesn't bring me the same joy anymore."

Atom: "This is the second worst attack of the clones I've seen!"

(Ouch! Take that, George Lucas!)
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