Sunday, June 30, 2019

Run, O.J., Run!

A couple weeks ago O.J. Simpson (who's apparently out of prison) announced he was joining Twitter. In a recorded message, The Juice said "It should be a lot of fun," and that he had a "little gettin' even to do."

Yikes! What the hell does that mean? I think you used up your "gettin' even" quota back in the 90s, OJ!

Anyway, since this is the internet, his Twitter feed is going about as well as you'd expect. Here's a recent excerpt:

What'd he think was gonna happen? He's an acquitted double murderer! Did he think people would just forget about all that and ask him questions about playing for the Bills or what Leslie Nielsen was like?

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Reverse The Polarity Of The Urine Flow

So I was watching clips of classic Doctor Who on YouTube today, and this happened:

In this clip from the episode The Time Monster, we see the Third Doctor and Jo Grant are inside the TARDIS. Note that the Doctor's holding some kind of high-tech device...

Here's a closeup of the device. Um... OK, then. This had to be the work of a disgruntled prop man at the BBC, right? I mean there's no way this happened by accident. Some worker got pissed at management and decided to see if he could sneak a giant dick on the air in 1972.

M-O-O-N, That Spells "I'm Cautiously Optimistic"

For the past five years now, I've been occasionally blogging about the Hollywood film adaptation of The Stand, based on the Stephen King book of the same name.

You can read those previous posts here, if you've a mind to:
M-O-O-N, That Spells "I've Got A Bad Feeling About This"
M-O-O-N, That Spells, "I Have A Slightly Better Feeling About This"
M-O-O-N, That Spells "Oh For Cryin' Out Loud!"
M-O-O-N, That Spells "Let's Call The Whole Thing Off!"

See, The Stand is my all time favorite book, and I've probably read it twenty or thirty times over the years. So naturally I have a vested interest in a new film adaptation, and want the producers to do justice to the story.

Unfortunately, each update on the production has been more appalling than the last. First is the fact that it's being written and directed by Josh Boone. Who better to helm a post apocalyptic epic than the director of the teen cancer tearjerker The Fault In Our Stars? Oy.

Then in 2014 there was the news that Boone wanted to cram the entire story into one measly three hour movie. Jesus wept. The Stand is a massive book with a huge cast of characters—  at least 28 by my count. I can guarantee they're not all going to make the cut in a three hour film. The 1994 ABC miniseries was six hours long. Even at that length they had to drop certain characters and combine others, as well as eliminate entire subplots. There's no way in hell a two or even three hour version can do justice to the book. 

A few months later Boone changed his mind, saying he now wanted to split the story into four theatrical films (huzzah!). He also said he wanted these films to be more "grounded" than the novel (boooo!). Yes, because when you're dealing with a supernatural story about good vs. evil, it should be as pedestrian as possible.

A year later (in 2015) Boone changed his mind yet again, saying he now planned on turning The Stand into an eight part miniseries on Showtime. OK, not quite the same as a theatrical release, but the story would definitely benefit from the extra time. But then he destroyed any goodwill the previous announcement may have generated by saying he'd conclude the story in a theatrical film. Son of a bitch! Who the hell's going to go to the cineplex to see the end of a goddamned TV show?

Then in 2016 Boone announced the whole project was "temporarily on hold." Meaning the studio got tired of waiting on his ass, and canceled the movie.

But wait! Apparently the project's back on! It's now reportedly going to be a ten episode miniseries on CBS: All Access, the fine folks who've brought us two miserable seasons of Star Trek: Discovery, aka STD. Um... hooray, I guess?

This week CBS announced they've actually started casting the series, which I guess makes it official. Here's a list of the six characters they've cast so far (there're at least twenty more to go, if they're including everyone from the book!):

First up is James Marsden as main character Stu Redman. Stu was played in the '94 miniseries by Gary Sinise, and he was just about perfect casting. Marsden's got his work cut out for him if he's gonna top Sinise. 

Marsden seems a little too "pretty boy" for the plain, average-looking Stu, but I think he may be able to pull it off.

Next is Odessa Young as Fran Goldsmith, the story's female protagonist. I've never heard of Ms. Young, so I'm not familiar with her work at all. 

Molly Ringwald played the character in the original miniseries, and to be honest I never believed her as Fran for even a second. At least Young looks the part, so I'm sure she'll do just fine.

Whoopi Goldberg's reportedly been cast as Mother Abigail, the 108 year old woman who serves as a conduit for God, drawing all the "good" characters to her side.

Eh... I guess she'll do. Ruby Dee was absolutely spot on as Mother Abigail in the miniseries, so it'll be hard to top her. With the proper makeup, I think Goldberg can probably do a decent job.

The most worrisome bit of casting is Greg Kinnear as Glen Bateman. In the novel, Bateman's a retired college professor who's bald and suffers from arthritis. Not really seeing any of that in Kinnear, who's currently just fifty six. Yes, they'll probably age him up a bit, but he's the last actor I'd have picked to play a bald, paunchy old man.

Glen was played by actor Ray Walston in the miniseries, and he did a pretty good job. Again, Kinnear's gonna have a tough row to hoe to beat Walston.

Amber Heard's been cast as the doomed Nadine Cross. Eh. I was never really sold on Laura San Giacomo as Nadine in the miniseries, so as long as Heard can convincingly play a woman who's struggling with her destiny, she'll be fine.

Lastly we have Henry Zaga as the deaf-mute Nick Andros. Again, never heard of him; no idea who he is or what he's been in. Nick was played in the miniseries by Rob Lowe. Zaga has the right look, but can he actually emote? Nick's a completely silent character, so he has to convey everything he's feeling without saying a word. Hopefully Zaga's up to that challenge.

So there you have it. I'm still not convinced this new adaptation won't be an absolute shit-show, but after seeing some of the casting choices I'm cautiously optimistic. 

What Happened To The Art Of Movie Poster Design: Some Actual GOOD Examples!

For the past month or so I've been obsessively complaining about the sorry state of current movie poster design. 99% of it is pure, undiluted crap that would embarrass a first year art student. When I look at the artwork lining the walls of my local cineplex, I'm baffled as to how any of it was ever approved, much less printed and sent out for use.

Today I thought I'd try something different for a change, and present a precious few movie posters that are actually GOOD. Bear with me—  I'm a little rusty, as I'm not used to praising poster art. 

First up is the Japanese poster for Godzilla: King Of The Monsters. They went with an illustrated design here rather than photos, which is much appreciated. The four main monsters are all stylishly represented, as they're intertwined with what I assume is the film's title. Love the bold red background too. Kudos!

Next is this IMAX poster for Toy Story 4: The Unnecessary Sequel. The third film tied up the series with a perfect narrative bow, making this fourth outing nothing more than a shameless cash grab on Disney's part. 

That said, this is a damn fine poster. As I noted above, I love illustrated posters and would take one any day over a design cobbled together from a dozen photos.

I like the character designs here, that manage to capture the look of the 3D models in two dimensions. The predominantly purple/green color palette is an interesting choice, but it works. Well done, IMAX Toy Story 4 designer!

Lastly, I like this poster for Jim Jarmusch's arthouse zombie film The Dead Don't Die. It's incredibly simple, but effective. In particular I love the blue tint with the red fill light at the right, and as a graphic designer I'm a sucker for hand-drawn fonts. Great job!

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Snip Tenth Anniversary!

Hard to believe, but today marks the tenth anniversary of my decision to go cable free! I officially cut the cord way back on June 25, 2009!

And you know what? I still don't miss it a bit!

I grew up in a rural area with no cable service (amazingly, the area still doesn't have it to this day!). That meant we could only pick up three measly channels
—  four if the weather conditions were just right.

As a result of this electronic deprivation, I desperately envied anyone who was able to enjoy the cornucopia of entertainment cable had to offer.

Eventually I moved to a different city, and at long last was finally able to sign up for cable. Huzzah! Unfortunately my elation quickly turned to dismay when I started flipping through my many channels, and realized there was a whole lot of nothing on.

At one time I determined that out all the channels I had, I was watching exactly four shows. Eventually two of those ended their runs, leaving just two. I decided it didn't make financial sense to pay $70 + a month for a bunch of channels I never watched. So I called the cable company and canceled. 

I didn't feel particularly deprived though, as I bought an antenna and managed to pull in fifteen or so over the air channels. I also started going through a lot of DVDs from my "To Watch" pile.

Then about four or five years ago I bought a Roku, and it changed my life! If you've ever thought about dipping your toe in the streaming pool, definitely go for it. There's more content available on a Roku than you could ever possibly watch. Best of all the majority of it's free. AND 99% of it's on demand, so you can watch when you want, not when the networks dictate!

I've said it many times before, but it's still true
— I highly recommend cutting the cable cord. There are many cheaper and better alternatives out there, and I guarantee you will not regret it. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

What Happened To The Art Of Movie Poster Design: Spider-Man: Far From Home

Man, the hits, er, I mean the horribly designed movie posters just keep comin.' I don't know what the hell's going on, but so far Summer 2019 has a been an absolute goldmine of god-awful lobby art.

Nowhere is that more evident than with Marvel/Sony's upcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home. Apparently Sony must have had a "Bring Your Kid To Work Day," and one of their designers let their son or daughter take a crack at the Spider-Man ad campaign. 

Sony definitely went all out for this film. They didn't just stop at one bad design, they gave us a whole slate of 'em! And yes, I'm blaming Sony here, because Marvel Studios usually puts out decent posters.

First up we have this cobbled-together monstrosity. I kind of see what they were going for here, as the designer attempted to place the main characters over the spider symbol seen on Peter Parker's costume. Unfortunately it doesn't quite work, as the figures cover up way too much of the symbol and make it virtually unrecognizable. It ends up looking like they're posing in front of gigantic tuning forks. I'm sure it probably looked a lot better in the mind's eye of the designer.

The overly retouched faces are another added bonus. Tom Holland's currently twenty three, but looks about sixteen. I doubt there's a single wrinkle on his entire face, so why'd they feel the need for such extreme airbrushing? He looks like a plastic mannequin here.

And then there's the lighting, which illuminates the characters from three completely different directions. Nothing says "None Of These Actors Were In The Same Room When Their Photos Were Taken" like separate light sources! Professional!

Lastly, there's the clip art landmarks. Yes, I understand this is the purpose of clip art. But most artists try to customize it a bit, rather than just downloading an image and plopping it unchanged into their design.

Apparently the designer was so pleased with the way the first poster turned out that they decided to use it as a base for this second version. This time they place the figures inside a could of neon tube triangles for some reason. 

They reuse the three main figures here, although these versions aren't touched up as severely as the others, and end up looking much more natural. Apparently the designer had some dead space at the bottom, and decided to fill it haphazardly with a couple new characters. Note that once again, they're lit by completely different light sources. Hey, at least their incompetence is consistent.

And once again there's more clip art awkwardly inserted, to clumsily let us know the movie takes place in London.

And then there's this design. Jesus wept. I don't even know where to begin. It's... attention-grabbing, I'll say that for it. Of course one could have said the same thing about the Hindenburg explosion too, so...

I think maybe they were going for some kind of retro illustration vibe here, but sadly they failed miserably. Oddly enough the landmark line art isn't a terrible concept, but it's very poorly executed, as there's no apparent thought to how the elements are laid out.

As you might expect by now, once again we have three characters with three light sources. And apparently there's exactly ONE photo of Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury in the entire world, as they've used it on THREE different posters now. And how about that image of Jake Gylllllennnhaaaalll as Mysterio? Check out his thrilling action pose there, as he stands stock still, facing the camera as if he's at the DMV. Exciting!

You've heard the expression "Let's Throw Some Ideas At The Wall And See What Sticks?" This is the visual representation of that saying.

Credit where it's due— I don't actually mind this poster. It's a clever idea, playing on the old idea of travel stickers slapped on a suitcase, and the extreme closeup means there's not a lot they can screw up. I won't go so far as to say "well done," but I will say "reasonably adequate job."

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Flash Season 5, Episode 19: Snow Pack

This week on The Flash we get an episode that's chock full of plot, as by my count there're at least three main storylines going on simultaneously. Unfortunately none of them matter, as they're all just filler, designed to eat up time until we get to the season finale. 

Seriously, you could cut out every second of the "Snow Family Reunion" plot and it literally wouldn't change the episode in any noticeable way. 

Same goes for the "Cicada Kidnaps Her Younger Self" plot, although it's possible that one may be setting up a future storyline down the road a bit.

Even the main "Nora's Turned Evil By The Negative Speed Force" plot goes absolutely nowhere. I'm assuming next week's show will deal with the fallout of her "shocking" turn to evil, but I'm betting it'll all be resolved by the end of the episode.

Once again, Cisco sits out an entire episode. This makes the fourth time so far this season. This is more than simple coincidence, as something's definitely up with the character. I'm starting to believe the rumors that Carlos Valdes wants to leave the show, and the writers are trying to prep us for Cisco's departure.

Last week I noted that Eobard Thawne seemed to genuinely care about his "little runner" Nora, and wondered if he really was attempting to atone for a lifetime of misdeeds. 

Welp, that didn't last long! This week it's patently obvious that he's expertly manipulating Nora into secretly helping him carry out some sort of nefarious plan. Just what it is, isn't quite apparent yet, but he's definitely up to something and hasn't turned over a new leaf. 

The Plot:
Picking up right where the previous episode left off, Barry returns to the present after stranding Nora in 2049. Iris confronts him and asks how the hell he could do such a thing to their daughter. He says they can no longer trust Nora after finding out she's been working with his archenemy Eobard Thawne for months. Incredibly, Iris says none of that matters, and that Barry's making decisions based on his emotions (!!!).

Iris goes on to say that Nora working with Thawne doesn't bother her. Quite rightly, Barry says she'd feel differently if Thawne had killed HER mother, as he did his. He wraps up by saying she's making decisions based on her emotions toward Nora. Realizing she's just been epicly faced, Iris storms off.

In 2049, Nora visits Thawne in his cell yet again, telling him she's lost her father a second time. She says she should never have lied to Team Flash. She mentions that Barry told her that he'd sense it in the Speed Force if she ever attempts to go back in time again. Thawne verifies this is true, and Nora asks how he time traveled without any speedsters sensing him. Cryptically, he says there's a way, but that it's not for her.

Nora begs Thawne to tell her, and he says he created his own Negative Speed Force. Sure, why not? He says Nora can learn to use it herself, but warns that it's dangerous. Of course it is.

Back in the present at STAR Labs, Barry tells Team Flash he took Nora to the future for good. Sherloque agrees with Barry's decision, saying it's for the best. Once again the others treat Sherloque like absolute sh*t, and tell him maybe it's time he left as well. Wait, these people are supposed to be the heroes, right?

Just then Joe gets a call from the hospital. It seems that someone broke into Grace Gibbons' room and abducted her. Gee, I wonder who could have done that?

Meanwhile, Caitlin's mom Dr. Carla Tannhauser is working late in her lab. Her husband Thomas Snow, aka Icicle, kills a security guard and enters. Carla hears the commotion and hides. She watches as Thomas breaks into a cryogenic chamber, steals a high-tech device and leaves.

The next day Barry, Caitlin and Joe investigate the break-in. Caitlin says the device stolen was a Cyro-Atomizer, designed to explore the coldest reaches of space. Carla scolds Caitlin for not telling her that Thomas had escaped his icy prison and was roaming about freely. Caitlin counters by saying Carla never told her Thomas was alive all these years. Zing!

At the West house, Cecile and Ralph are trying to figure out where to find Cicada II. Iris sits on the couch, moodily writing an angry letter to Barry (?). Ralph notices and says their love is eternal, and she and Barry just need to talk. An angry Iris storms out. Cecile tells Ralph to follow her, as she senses Iris is "determined."

At STAR Labs, Iris enters the Time Vault to talk to Gideon. She has her lock the Time Sphere to her, so as not to set off any alarms, whatever that means. She turns to find Ralph's followed her into the Vault, and he tells her he's coming with.

In 2049, Thawne begins training Nora. She takes off running, and he tells her to focus on her pain. Before long a red portal opens up— the Negative Speed Force. Before she can enter it though, the portal collapses. She asks Thawne why it didn't work.

In the present, Iris and Ralph are in a snowy field somewhere (?), attempting to use the Time Sphere. Iris sits inside it, while Ralph uses some kind or technobabble gun to open a portal. He then jumps into the Sphere a second before it's pulled into the portal.

At STAR, Caitlin says the Cyro-Atomizer can slow down particles to absolute zero. With it, Icicle could freeze the entire city. Caitlin says they can track him with an Oscillating Inversion Scanner, but Carla says a Modified Field Array would be better. The two then begin bickering over which item Barry should grab. Eventually he gets tired of their cackling and says he'll get both—  at normal speed.

Suddenly Joe notices the room getting colder, and tells the two women to run. Right on cue, Icicle enters and knocks them both across the room with a freeze blast. Joe draws his gun just as Icicle blasts him. Barry enters (dressed as the Flash) and manages to push Joe out of the way of the blast, but is hit by it himself. Of course he is. The two men are both knocked cold, pardon the pun.

At STAR, Sherloque's preparing to leave when he hears an alarm that's Barry's in trouble. He uses a portable breacher to teleport to Carla's lab, where a now-conscious Joe's trying to revive Barry. Sherloque says Barry's in cardiac arrest from the cold (?), and uses two live wires to heat up his suit and restore him.

Caitlin and Carla wake in a remote Tannhauser site in the Badlands, both wearing power-dampening cuffs. They begin arguing again, and Caitlin asks her mother why she's always been so "cold" to her. Get it? Icicle enters and takes a blood sample from Caitlin. He calls their family the "Snow Pack" (Houston, we have a title!). Carla says Icicle's planning to use the Atomizer to give them all new "ice" personas, and erase their regular personalities. Based on what I've seen so far, I don't see this as a problem!

Iris & Ralph arrive in 2049 and sneak into Iron Heights Prison. Ralph knocks out Shinick the guard and uses his powers to impersonate him, so Iris can talk with Nora (I guess she tracked her to the prison somehow).

Iris enters Thawne's cell and sees Nora talking with him. She tells a very shocked & surprised Nora to come with her. Instead of doing so, Nora starts asking why Barry's not with her. Nora says Barry doesn't know she's here, and to step away from Thawne. He tells Nora to listen to her mother.

For some reason Nora takes Barry's absence as proof he doesn't love her. She begins building up Negative Speed Force Energy and zooms out of the prison. She opens a Negative Speed Force portal and runs into it, seeing glimpses of all the bad things that've happened to her this season.

Thawne tells Iris that Nora is going back to 2019, and says he made a mistake in showing her how to get there. He tells Iris that she and Barry need to reconcile, as Nora needs them united now more than ever. She hisses that Thawne doesn't get to comment on her family, and leaves.

At the Tannhauser site, Carla asks Caitlin what it's like having someone else in her head. Just then Icicle enters and drags Carla away. Caitlin tries to intervene, but Icicle fires an ice blast at her and leaves. Caitlin smiles, as the ice blast hit her power-dampening cuffs.

At STAR, Barry says he has no idea how to track Icicle. Sherloque suggests mapping all the cold spots around the city, as he might be in one of those. Really? It took Sherloque to suggest something that simple?

Icicle throws Carla into a typical supervillain cyro chamber and activates it, freezing her. Just then Killer Frost enters and blasts Icicle across the room. He asks how she escaped, and she explains he froze her cuffs, causing them to shatter. Icicle ramps up the power on the chamber and says Frost can either save Carla or capture him. He then flies off.

Killer Frost is frozen (heh) with indecision. Just then the Flash enters, and Frost tells him to save Carla while she goes after Icicle. We're then treated to a pretty cool (heh) chase scene, as the two of form ice ramps in mid air and slide along them.

Barry tries to open the chamber, but it's so cold it freezes his hand. Sherloque radios him and suggests he phase through the chamber, grab Carla and phase back out. Again, it took Sherloque to think of this? Barry's the one with the powers! Barry concentrates and begins phasing, jumping through the chamber and exiting with Carla.

Meanwhile the ice ramp chase continues. Killer Frost fires a blast at Icicle, destroying his ramp. He then falls down toward her, and generates an icy dagger and hurls it into her chest. She immediately transforms back into Caitlin. 

Icicle pulls the dagger out of her chest and is about to slit her throat with it, when suddenly he stops. He seems to struggle with himself, and then transforms back into regular old Thomas Snow. Caitlin asks if he's really her father, and he tells her everything's going to be OK.

Caitlin and Thomas return to the Tannhauser site, where Carla's regained consciousness. She's stunned to see a normal Thomas, and asks what happened. He explains that when he saw Icicle about to kill Caitlin, he found the strength to break through and save her. He says thanks to her, he may have finally banished the monster inside him.

Just then Cicada II enters (sigh...) and attacks Flash, knocking him out (of course). Caitlin tells her parents to beat it, and transforms into Killer Frost. Despite the fact that Frost has long range powers and could freeze Cicada solid from a hundred feet away, she insists on fighting at close quarters with ice daggers.

Predictably, Cicada easily womps Frost, delivering an epic beatdown. She then hurls her dark matter dagger at her. Suddenly Thomas somehow appears in front of Frost, as the dagger plunges into his back. What the hell? Did he teleport back into the lab? How the holy hell did he get back there?

Anyway, Cicada grabs the Cryo Atomizer and flies off. Caitlin cradles her dying father, as Carla returns. He tells her he'll always love them and promptly dies.

At STAR, Team Flash wonders why Cicada took the Atomizer, or how she knew it was at the site. Iris tells Barry they need to talk, and they return to their loft.

Caitlin runs tests on her mother to see if Icicle's freezing chamber altered her genetic makeup. Caitlin produces a vial of green liquid, saying if there were any changes to Carla's DNA, the sample would turn white. Plot Point! Carla suggests the two of them go out for a drink to talk and possibly reconnect. As they leave, naturally the vial turns white.

Ralph sees Sherloque packing (wait, didn't he already do that earlier?) and tells him he still has much to offer his "family." Sherloque decides to stay.

At the loft, Iris says Barry was right about Thawne, and says he's definitely manipulating Nora. Barry admits he shouldn't have marooned Nora without talking it over with Iris. She says she worries that Thawne might actually care about Nora, and see himself as a father to her. Barry says they should bring Nora home.

Elsewhere, a red portal opens on an empty street. Nora exits, her eyes glowing an eerie red. 

Also elsewhere, Cicada II is in a remote cabin, tending to her younger self. She turns and stares at the Atomizer she stole.


• For some reason, episode writers Jonathan Butler & Gabriel Garza did their best to make the regular characters in this episode as unlikable as possible. Iris callously dismisses Barry's feelings about his arch enemy Thawne, Team Flash treats Sherloque like crap for the second week in a row and Caitlin spends the entire episode bickering with her mother. Jesus, if I wanted to see unpleasant drama like this I'd just watch my own family!

Iris is the worst offender by far. The minute she finds out Barry marooned Nora in the future, she tears into him, asking how he could have made such a decision without consulting her. 

If she'd stopped then and there, I probably would have been on her side, because Barry should have consulted her before taking such momentous action. But she keeps going, accusing Barry of becoming "overly emotional" just because Nora's teaming up with his archenemy Eobard Thawne! You know, the evil supervillain who murdered Barry's mother right before his very eyes!

As if all that wasn't enough, she tells Barry that it doesn't bother her in the least that their daughter's working with a speedster serial killer. Jaysis, Iris! Did you really just say that? We're... we're supposed to like her character, right? I didn't miss an episode in which she turned evil or something?

The rest of the cast fares no better, as for the second episode in a row they treat poor Sherloque so shabbily that he actually packs his bags and prepares to return to his own Earth! Team Flash has become such assholes that a man is literally leaving the planet to get away from them!

• Thawne brags about the personal Speed Force he invented, causing Nora to salivate over it and demand he teach her how to access it. I love the tiny hint of a smirk on his face when he says, "Well, I I have to warn you, Nora. It's a little bit negative."

Tom Cavanagh is a national treasure!

• Although it seems like the Negative Speed Force was pulled directly out of the writer's ass, it's actually a thing from the comics. It made its debut during Geoff Johns' 2009 Flash Rebirth series.

Additionally, in the comics there's also a Sage Force (whatever the hell that is), a Strength Force and a Still Force (which I guess would be the opposite of the Speed Force?).

• It seems odd to me that Icicle, a supervillain who already has cold powers, would need to steal a device that can freeze all of Central City. Eh, but what do I know? I'm sure he knows what he's doing.

• Icicle's familiar look was intentional, wasn't it? I mean, it had to be, right? It's too big of a coincidence to be otherwise.

• Inside the West house, Ralph helps himself to some pizza. Note the pizza box is labeled, "Milgrom And McFarlane" (in the green banner).

These are likely references to comic book creators Al Milgrom and Todd McFarlane. OK, Milgrom I get, as he co-created Firestorm at DC. McFarlane penciled Infinity, Inc. at DC for a couple years, before moving to Marvel and then eventually co-founding Image Comics. To my knowledge, neither one of them ever worked on The Flash comic, so I'm not sure why they're getting a shoutout here.

• When Iris sees Ralph in the Time Vault with her, she asks how the hell he got in. He says he sneaked in by flattening himself and slipping under the door. Hmm. I get that his clothing could probably fit under the door, but what about his shoes? Did they flatten themselves as well?

• Is it wintertime in Central City? Or are there heretofore unmentioned mountains in the area with snow-capped peaks? I'm just struggling to figure out exactly where Iris & Ralph are during this scene. Did they breach to the Rocky Mountains so no one on Team Flash would try to stop them from going to the future?

• Iris asks Ralph if he's ready to open the breach and activate the Time Sphere. He says, "All set to hit eighty eight miles per hour!" For those of you born in this millennium, that's a Back To The Future reference.

• Once in 2049, Iris and Ralph infiltrate Iron Heights Prison to see Thawne. Ralph tries to distract Shinick, the sadistic prison guard, so Iris can sneak into Thawne's cell.

Note the ad on the back of the magazine Shinick's reading. It's for Gingold, Ralph's favorite soft drink (you'll have to zoom in to see it). In the comics, Gingold was also the substance that gave Elongated Man his powers.

• For at least the third time in the series (maybe even fourth?), Ralph uses his stretchy powers to imitate a black man. I'll accept that he can rearrange his face to resemble Shinick's features, but how the hell is he altering his skin color?

Apparently Ralph must be part cuttlefish!

• Iris meets with Thawne in his cell in 2049. Suddenly Ralph enters and says they have to go. I love the odd little look Ralph gives Thawne when he catches a glimpse of him. This is his first encounter with Thawne, so it's probably quite disconcerting to see an evil supervillain with the same face as his pal Sherloque.

• I loved the awesome battle between Icicle and Killer Frost, as they chased each other through the skies above the Badlands on icy ramps. This is the way most ice-based characters (such as Iceman of the X-Men) travel in the comics, and it looks exactly how I imagined it would in live action. Well done!

• Just as Icicle's about to kill Caitlin, Thomas takes control of his own body again.  Thomas and Caitlin then hug it out, as the camera pulls back to reveal they're perched precariously on the edge of an ice ramp, several thousand feet in the air!

Hopefully Killer Frost manifested herself again to help get the two of them get down. Otherwise they're gonna have to slide all the way back to the ground!

• At the end of the episode, Caitlin's reunited with both her parents. Their reunion's short-lived though, as they're attacked by Cicada II. Caitlin tells her parents to run for their lives, as she transforms into Killer Frost. Note that we clearly see Thomas and Carla flee the facility. A few seconds later, Frost is saved from certain death when Thomas throws himself in front of Cicada's dagger.

As I said in the plot description, where the hell did Thomas come from? He left the building with his ex-wife! Yet somehow he comes between Frost and the dagger in time to save her. The only explanation here is that Thomas is a teleporter. That or he can turn invisible, and sneaked back into the facility unseen. 

There's also a third, and more likely option— bad writing!

• This Week's Best Lines:
Thawne: "I used to idolize your father. I wanted to be just like him. But that was not my fate. I was to be the reverse. Opposite of him in every way. So instead of tapping into the Speed Force to access my powers I created my own."
Nora: "You created your own Speed Force?"
Thawne: "Yes, I did."
Nora: "And I can access it to go back in time?"
Thawne: "That and more."Nora: "Can you teach me how to use it?"
Thawne: "Well, I I have to warn you, Nora. It's a little bit negative."

Joe: "Future Grace steals past Grace. I don't even know if there's a police code for kidnapping yourself."

Carla: "Your father is trapped inside an ice monster, Caitlin. What was I supposed to do? Split custody with him on the weekends?"

Caitlin: "The inversion scanner."
Carla: "The field array."
Barry: "I'll get both. Might take my time."
Killer Frost: "Cool knife. I've got two."

Joe: "So you went to the future?"
Ralph: "Yeah. John Stamos still handsome."
Sherloque: "He'll never not age."
Ralph: "No, never. Man, he looks good."

One Banana, Two Banana, Three Banana, NO!

Hard to believe, but this week there's actually news on The Banana Splits front!

For those of you too young to remember (which is likely ALL of you), The Banana Splits Adventure Hour was a Saturday morning kids' show, featuring the live-action antics of four costumed funny animals: Fleegle, a large beagle, Bingo, and orange gorilla, Drooper, a slow-talking lion and Snorky, an elephant. 

The four characters played musical instruments, starred in comedic sketches and introduced cartoon segments on the show. Although the show was produced by Hanna-Barbera, the character suits were designed by Sid & Marty Krofft, who went on to produce many of their own shows, including H.R. PufnstuffLidsville and Land Of The Lost.

Although largely forgotten today, The Banana Splits were HUGE when I was a kid. There were tons of Banana Splits merch, including puppets, lunchboxes, clothing, model kits, books and comics. You name it, their images were slapped onto it. The Banana Splits were a major part of my childhood, and I have fond memories of watching the show.

Which is why I was somewhat dismayed this week when I saw a trailer for this:

Yep, that's right. Warner Bros. is producing a The Banana Splits Movie.

This isn't your grandpa's Banana Splits though, laws no. This ill-advised version of the property an R-rated horror film! Let that sink in for a minute, eh?

According to the official synopsis, a young boy named Harley and his family attend a taping of The Banana Splits TV show for his birthday. Things take an unexpected turn though when the animatronic Banana Splits characters (?) begin running amok, killing everyone they see (!). Harley and his family then have to escape the studio before they're murdered by the now deadly funny animals.

So basically Warner Bros. just straight up made a Five Nights At Freddy's movie. And they're not even being subtle about it! The plot is EXACTLY the same!

The main question here is... why? Why the hell would Warner Bros. make an ersatz copy of Five Nights At Freddy's, instead of just filming the real thing? There are two reasons I can think of:

1. There's already a Five Nights At Freddy's movie in production at a rival studio, and Warner Bros. beat them to the punch with a clone to cash in on the craze.

2. Warner Bros. desperately wanted to make a Five Nights At Freddy's movie, but the creator of the game wanted too much money for the film rights. Warner looked through their properties, saw they owned The Banana Splits and simply plugged them into their horror script.

Of these theories, I'm gonna guess #2 is the one that likely happened.

Despite the fact I loved The Banana Splits as a kid, I moved on decades ago and haven't thought about them in years. That said, I have to admit a small part of me's a bit dismayed to see the characters treated like this.

If you've seen the trailer for the upcoming movie, you probably noticed how bad the Banana Splits costumes look. Get a load of those sad, moth-eaten suits! I've seen far better production values in SNL sketches! The costumes don't even fit properly. Did they intentionally make them look bad on purpose as part of some plot point?

In fact the whole film looks like a cheap TV movie. Which is exactly what it is. When I first heard about the project, I assumed it was going to be a theatrical film. Nope! It's a direct to video film, that's also going to air on the Siffy Channel. Good! That way no one will ever see it, and the Splits' image won't be tarnished.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

What Happened To The Art Of Movie Poster Design: Wonder Woman 1984

Sigh... Another day, another putrid movie poster. What the hell's going on over there in Hollywood's various design departments? Seems like there's been a veritable plague of god-awful designs in the past month or two. Case in point: This poster for the upcoming Wonder Woman 1984

In this sequel, Wonder Woman teams up with Winston Smith to overthrow the totalitarian regime of the Party, lead by none other than Big Brother himself. It's possible I may have misread the film's synopsis.

Nevertheless, look at this eye-searing abomination of a poster. Jesus Tapdancing Christ! Could they have shoehorned any more colors into the feckin' thing? I assume the mylar curtains are supposed to represent two Ws over and over, but my god... surely there was a less obnoxious way to go about it.

I assume since this movie's set in 1984, the "designer" is trying to evoke the look and spirit of that decade. Thing is, I lived through the 80s, and I don't remember ever seeing anything that looked even remotely like this.

I'll give it credit where it's due— it'll definitely stand out in the cineplex lobby, and draw everyone's eye. Of course once they see it, they'll immediately begin vomiting, but that's to be expected.

A quick check around the internet reveals that the vast majority of fans actually like this appalling advertisement! Holy crap! I was gobsmacked to learn this. What the hell is wrong with people? I feel like I'm been taking my crazy pills again!

I also notice that Wonder Woman's apparently been feminist-ized in this sequel. No longer does she wear the star-spangled bikini she's been sporting for nearly eighty years (!). Laws, no! That look was imposed on her by the evil Patriarchy. Mustn't allow nasty old white men to tell a strong, independent character like Wonder Woman how to dress! 

Instead she's now completely covered from the neck down by chain mail and armor (that still emphasizes her breast, by the way). Heck, why stop there? Why give icky old males anything to leer at? Stick a helmet on her head, and cover up her flattering features while you're at it!

Sunday, June 9, 2019

The Flash Season 5, Episode 18: Godspeed

This week on The Flash we get a fair to middling episode that finally details Nora's origin story. Unfortunately it's marred somewhat by budget limitations, a MAJOR problem with the sequence of events of said origina and the waste of what could have been an awesome Big Bad for a future season/

On the plus side, this episode was directed by Danielle Pannabaker, aka Caitlin Snow. She does a pretty good job too, considering it's her first time in the director's chair. Too bad she didn't have some better material to work with.

As I mentioned above, there's a MASSIVE plot hole in this episode involving Nora becoming XS. I'll get into it in detail below, but basically this episode would have us believe that she learns how to time travel, Thawne teaches her his time language, she creates a costume and then visits various members of Team Flash in the past, all in the space of about half an hour. That seems unlikely.

For weeks before this episode aired, the internet was abuzz with the news that it would feature the debut of Godspeed, an awesome new speedster character from the comics. Fans of the show were beside themselves, anxiously awaiting the live-action appearance of the character.

Annnnnnd then he finally shows up, but he's a one-off villain of the week and is defeated by a tiny girl who just got her powers. Disappointing!

For some reason, many fans of The Flash were under the impression that Nora was a teenager, and were shocked when this episode confirmed the fact that she's well into her twenties. 

While I agree that Nora often acts like a whiny teen, anyone who thought she was one is reeeeally bad at math. Although we don't yet know her exact date of birth, it has to be sometime between 2020 (since Iris isn't pregnant yet) and 2024 (when Barry disappears in the Crisis. That would make her at least twenty five years old in 2049. And most likely older.

So what do we think about Thawne here? The episode goes to great lengths to make it look like he genuinely cares about his "little runner" Nora, and is attempting to atone for a lifetime of misdeeds. 

I honestly hope that's what's happening here, as I've always been a sucker for "villain redemption" stories. Given that this is Thawne we're talking about though, it seems unlikely. I have a feeling his attempts to turn over a new leaf are all part of an elaborate plan to escape and seek revenge on Barry.


The Plot:
Picking up right where we left off in the previous episode, Nora sits in the STAR Labs Secret Super Jail after Team Flash finds out she's been working with Eobard Thawne. In the Cortex, Barry and the others argue about what to do with Nora. Iris says they can't keep her locked up forever, while Barry says they can no longer trust her.

For absolutely no good reason, the entire Team turns on Sherloque when they find out he's suspected Nora of working with Thawne since she asrrived. He defends himself by saying he was gathering data before making an accusation, which is the proper procedure. Team Flash, especially Iris, doesn't see it that way. Ralph suggests Sherloque take a walk until everyone calms down.

Cecile points out that she never picked up on any deception on Nora's part (!), and she doesn't think there's anything malicious about her. Ralph spots Nora's diary, and says the answers lie inside. Barry tells him to read it from the beginning.

We then get a series of flashbacks detailing Nora's origin story. In 2049, Nora's working as a CSI at the CCPD (just like her old man!). She arrives late at a crime scene (just like Barry) and is scolded by her boss, Detective Frankie Curtis (again, just like Barry). She examines an abandoned delivery truck, and discovers someone stole benzene methanol and halothane. When she notices the truck's security system wasn't tripped, she suspects the culprit was a speedster.

At CCPD, Nora tells her friend & fellow CSI Lia that she thinks there's a speedster in town. Lia says that's crazy, as there hasn't been one in Central City for decades. She accuses her of being obsessive, noting that Nora's still trying to figure out the Cicada case. Lia analyzes the security footage and sees a flash of white lightning in it. She grudgingly admits Nora was right, but wonders why a speedster would be stealing chemicals.

That night Nora visits the Flash Museum, which reveals there was never a speedster who gave off white lightning. Nora gets a call from Iris, who's irate that she hasn't returned her previous calls. Lia then calls her, saying she sent the list of stolen chemicals to her old teacher, Dr. Bruce Bonwitt.

Nora and Lia visit Bonwitt at Ollins Labs. He tells them the stolen chemicals work on an extracellular matrix, but there's no way to tell what they're for. Well that was helpful. They thank Bonwitt for his time and leave.

As Nora and Lia exit the building, a speedster zooms past them. They run back in and see Bonwitt lying unconscious on the floor. Suddenly a figure in an all-white suit appears, and announces he's the God Of Speed. He then fires off a blast of white lightning at Nora, knocking her across the room before zipping away.

Sometime later Nora wakes in the hospital, with Lia by her side. Lia sheepishly admits she called Iris, who freaked out when she heard Nora'd been attacked and is on her way to Central City. Lia also shows Nora a metal scrap the doctors found in her shoulder. Lia says the docs assumed it was embedded in her body during the accident, but she thinks it looks more like a microchip.

Suddenly Lia drops the chip, and Nora's body crackles with lightning as she zips across the room at superspeed and grabs it in midair. She then zooms out of the hospital, completely out of control. She crashes into the back of a laundry truck and looks at her hand, which is vibrating so fast it's a blur.

Back at CCPD, Lia and Nora test her speed. Lia notes that Nora got her powers after being hit by lightning, just like the Flash. She wonders what Nora's going to tell Iris. Nora says that after Barry disappeared, Iris freaks out anytime she even hears the word "meta," so she doesn't plan to tell her.

They then discuss the white speedster, who Lia dubs "Godspeed." Just then they get a bank robbery alert. Nora speeds to the scene, but she's still not in control of her powers and plows into a bank guard, allowing the robbers to get away.

Nora returns to CCPD, moping about her screw up. Lia tells her not to worry about it, as the robbers were eventually caught. Nora then turns her attention to stopping Godspeed, but has no idea how to go about it. She decides the best way to stop a villain is to think like one. 

Nora goes to Iron Heights Prison, where she asks to visit Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse-Flash. She asks how he was ultimately defeated, saying it'll help with a current investigation. Thawne says she's a terrible liar, easily deducing that she herself is a fellow speedster.

Trevor Shinick, the main guard, enters and tells Nora her time's up and to beat it. For no good reason, Shinick then tortures Thawne by electrifying his cell. Nora sees this as she's escorted out.

The next day Lia tells Nora that she analyzed the metal fragment from her shoulder. She says it's a twenty five year old piece of tech from STAR Labs, designed to dampen superspeed. Lia says Nora's ALWAYS been a speedster, and the lightning simply fried the chip that negated her powers. Nora's gobsmacked by this revelation, and says there's only one person who could have done it to her.

Later Nora figures out that the chemicals Godspeed stole are unstable without dioxygen disulfide. And the only place to find that is Stagg Industries. Nora and Lia somehow sneak into Stagg to destroy the chemical before Godspeed can use it.

Unfortunately he shows up and poses dramatically. Nora chases him at superspeed, while Lia tries to open the dioxygen disulfide cannister and dump it out. Godspeed sees what Lia's doing and grabs her by the neck. He then vibrates his hand through her chest, killing her instantly. He runs off with the chemical, as Nora cradles Lia's dead body.

Cut to the present day, where Team Flash is still sticking their noses into Nora's journal. Iris says they owe Nora a second chance for some reason, and lets her out of the Secret Super Jail. She tells Nora she's giving her a chance to explain herself.

We then get more flashbacks, as Nora takes over her origin story. She sits home alone, moping about Lia. Iris arrives and says she heard about the death of her friend and is sorry. Nora shows her the dampener and asks if she knows anything about it. Iris plays dumb at first, until Nora says she knows what it does.

Iris then admits she had the dampener implanted to protect her, as she couldn't risk losing her too after Barry's disappearance. Quite rightly, Nora says it looks like she lost her after all, and speeds away.

Nora goes back to CCPD, where Detective Curtis tells her to take some time off to grieve for Lia. Nora says she'd rather try and catch Godspeed. Curtis mentions they found foreign DNA in Lia's wound (even though Godspeed wore gloves), which belongs to August Heart, a bio hacker. Nora pulls up his file and recognizes him as a patron at the Flash Museum.

Nora goes back to the Flash Museum and watches videos of various speedsters. She remembers that Godspeed's lightning started out white but eventually turned blue, meaning he's not a meta and his speed is artificial. She runs through the list of chemicals stolen by Godspeed, and realizes they're the ingredients needed to make Velocity-9— the chemical that gave Hunter Zolomon his speed.

Nora returns to Iron Heights and asks Thawne how to defeat Godspeed. He says she can't, as once Godspeed activates the stabilizing agent he'll be unstoppable. He tells her to go home and forget about it. Shinick finds her in the cell and angrily escorts her out. Before she goes, Thawne agrees to help her.

Thawne contacts Nora (because all condemned criminals have the internet in their cells, dontcha know) and directs her to Central City University, where she steals the biometric converter that Godspeed needs.

Just then Godspeed (who must be following Nora around the city) shows up and demands the converter. Nora slaps a power dampening wrist band on him, negating his speed. Godspeed simply pulls out a syringe and injects himself with MORE Velocity-9, giving him enough speed to overcome the power dampener (???).

Nora then zooms out of the building, with Godspeed close behind. She calls Thawne, telling him she can't run forever. He says the only way to ditch Godspeed is to phase through a brick wall, and gives her the exact same instructions he gave to Barry way back when.

At the last second Nora loses her nerve and ducks into an alley, saying she can't do it. A frustrated Thawne asks her what she sees around her. She's near the Central City Citizen Media building. Thawne says the satellites on top of the building recalibrate every hour, sending out a microwave burst. She'll have to get Godspeed to follow her, run up the side of the building and hope he dashes in front of a satellite dish as it discharges. That plan's so crazy it just might work!

Nora taunts Godspeed, and sure enough he chases her again. She runs up the side of the media building, and he follows in close pursuit. She leaps past a satellite a split second before it fires. The pulse hits Godspeed, frying him and causing him to fall to the street far below. That was easy!

Nora returns to Iron Heights, where she tells Thawne that Godspeed's in custody. She says she wants Thawne to train her, but he says there's simply o time, as he's due to be executed in a little over an hour. He asks her how much she knows about the Flash.

Cut to the Flash Museum. Nora removes a ring from the Reverse Flash's costume, which luckily doesn't set off any alarms. She then uses it to open the Time Vault. It's now being used for storage, and inside she finds old Flash costumes and rings. She accidentally activates Gideon, who recognizes her. Gideon plays her a message from Barry, obviously recorded during the upcoming Crisis On Infinite Earths. In the message, he reveals he's the Flash and says he regrets not being there to train her.

Back in the present, she says all she wanted to do was meet her father, and Thawne was the only person in the future who could show her how to do so. Barry asks the others to leave, so he can speak with Nora privately. He asks how many times she consulted with him once she'd made it to the past. She sheepishly admits she saw him "five or six" more times (more like ten or twelve!).

Barry's enraged. He says he can kind of understand working with Thawne in order to learn time travel. But continuing to meet with him once she'd been reunited with her family is more than he can take. He tells her it's time for her to go home.

Barry then takes Nora to 2049 and tells her to stay, warning her that he'll feel it in the Speed Force if she tries to come back (?). He then coldly leaves Nora in the middle of the street.

Before returning to the past, Barry visits Iron Height and confronts Thawne. He says it's not enough that he took his mother from him, but now he's gone after his daughter too. He tells Thawne he's finally lost this time, and he's about to get what he deserves. Cut to the clock in Thawne's cell, counting down...


• Might as well start with the episode's biggest and most undeniable problem. Unless I am completely misunderstanding everything, there is something very, very wrong with the timeline of Nora's origin.

Near the end of the episode, Nora defeats Godspeed after receiving advice from Eobard Thawne. She then says there's still a lot to learn about being a speedster, and asks Thawne to teach her. He says he can't, as there simply isn't time. He then nods toward a digital display in his cell, which is counting down the minutes until his execution.

Note that the display reads 1:19:31. Less than an hour and twenty minutes before he's scheduled to die.

This would be fine if this was the point where Nora and Thawne's relationship ended. But it doesn't end here. Boy, does it not end here.

At some point after this exchange, Thawne must have changed his mind and begins teaching Nora after all. Let's take a look at all the amazing things she learns and does in that one hour and nineteen minutes.

— Thawne teaches Nora how to time travel to the past using the Speed Force.

— Thawne teaches Nora his special "time language," which uses symbols that are somehow immune from temporal change. Apparently once something's written down in this language, it won't change even if the past is altered.

— Nora creates her XS costume, which is based on the purple & white leather jacket Iris wore in Run, Iris, Run. Note that Nora didn't just throw on her Mom's old jacket & call it done. If you zoom in, you can see she modified the jacket by adding a panel festooned with time language symbols! Her costume pants contain a time language strip as well.

— Nora then used her new-found time travel powers to go back to 2017, where she posed as a waitress and witnessed her parents' wedding. 

— She then appeared in Jitters sometime later in 2017, where she interacted with Cisco and Ralph. A bit later she appeared there again, and had an encounter with Caitlin and Harry. Still later, Nora posed as a delivery girl and gave Joe and Cecile a baby shower gift.

— After that, Nora (as XS) traveled to 2018 on the night of the Enlightenment. She helped Barry destroy The Thinker's satellite, which significantly altered the timeline. 

— The day after the failed Enlightenment, Nora appeared at the West house, where she revealed her true identity to Team Flash and told them she'd make a "big, big mistake."

— After being accepted by Team Flash and becoming one of them, Nora returns to 2049 to seek Thawne's advice several more times before his execution.

Whew! See what I mean! That's a good year's worth of events that were somehow accomplished in less than an hour and twenty minutes. MUCH less. I know Nora and Thawne are both speedsters, but c'mon! 

As I said, there's something very wrong with the timeline of events here. There's no way in hell Thawne taught Nora all this stuff in the time he had left.

• At the beginning of the episode, Team Flash is still reeling from the revelation that Nora's secretly been working with Eobard Thawne. Cecile attempts to defend Nora, saying in all the time she's been around she never sensed her lying.

WHAT? Cecile's telepathic powers must be on the fritz then, because Nora's done nothing BUT lie, deceive or withhold info since she arrived. Remember all the suspicious looks she gave everyone when she first appeared in Season 4, and then earlier this season? All the time language jottings in her secret journal? Sneaking back to 2049 for clandestine meetings with Thawne? Those were ALL lies in a sense.

• For some reason every member of Team Flash turns against Sherloque after they find out he suspected Nora of lying from the moment she arrived. They're all transformed into unpleasant assholes as they treat him like dirt, and all because he did his job properly. Their reactions were baffling, unfair and wayyyyy over the top.

To make things worse, Sherloque did nothing wrong! Apparently Team Flash is pissed because he secretly investigated Nora for months, but didn't tell anyone about it. But that's exactly what he was supposed to do. He did everything correctly and by the book. As Sherloque himself says, you don't condemn someone until you gather the proper evidence. I guess maybe he should have pointed at her and shouted, "J'accuse!"

 I get that Team Flash is upset, but they're WAY out of line here, and blaming the wrong person. In fact he'd be completely justified if he immediately went back to his Earth and told them all to f*ck off.

• Then to cement the fact that they're all assholes, Team Flash grabs Nora's journal and reads it.  Privacy, guys!

• The bulk of this episode takes place in Central City in the year 2049. This is a discount future though, as the city looks a LOT like it does here in 2019.

We get a couple of futuristic little touches, like these hilariously tiny cop cars that look like their top speed's about fifteen miles per hour.

And there's this goomer, wearing an incredibly impractical pair of holographic goggles. For some reason, these glasses project images in midair, instead of on the inside of the lens. Who thought that'd be a good idea? With a setup like that the whole world could see what you're watching! Good luck viewing porn on them!

Note that Nora mentions "hover taxis," but predictably we never see any evidence of flying cars. This is a budget-friendly future, dontcha know.

Other than those few flourishes, there's little or no evidence we're looking at the future.

• Nora's origin story mirrors that of her father's very closely.

In this episode, Nora, who's a CSI, is late getting to a crime scene. Barry did the same thing way back in the Pilot episode.

Nora's struck by lightning, which fries the power-dampening chip in her body, revealing that she's been a speedster all along. In Pilot, Barry's struck by lightning and becomes a speedster.

Nora's knocked unconscious by the lightning and wakes in the hospital. Lia plays her favorite song Poker Face in hopes it'll help her wake up. In Pilot, Barry's knocked unconscious by the lightning and wakes in the hospital, to the strains of the same exact song.

(An aside here— Nora must be into oldies. From her point of view, Poker Face is a whopping forty one year old song!)

— The first time Nora uses her superspeed, she zooms off out of control and crashes into the back of a truck. Barry did the exact same thing in the pilot episode.

— Thawne attempts to teach Nora how to phase. He did the same thing (disguised as Harrison Wells) to Barry in the pilot.

• Nora arrives at a crime scene and examines a van labeled Dayton Labs. In the comics, Steve Dayton was the superhero Mento (not Mentos), a member of the Doom Patrol.

I'm sure this little shoutout had nothing to do with the fact that The Doom Patrol TV series is currently airing over on the DC Universe streaming channel.

• Nora finds an Affinity 4000 Security Camera in the Dayton Labs van. She takes it to her colleague Lia, who gushes over it, saying, "God, I wish CCPD would spring for one of these Affinity cameras. I mean, trillion FPS, captures light in motion..."

Wow, a camera that can record a trillion frames per second. Sounds pretty impressive, right? Wrong! Right now in primitive old 2019, we have a camera called the T-CUP, which can capture a mind-boggling TEN TRILLION FRAMES PER SECOND. 

So why's Lia, who lives in 2049, so impressed with one that's ten times slower? Whoops!

• All of the Flash memorabilia in Nora's office is readily available here in 2019 from your local comic shop.

• Nora sees flashes of white lightning on the Dayton van's security footage, and suspects a speedster robbed it. Lia's skeptical, saying, "I mean, Flash, Kid Flash, Jay Garrick, that that weird purple speedster that just showed up one day. They're all gone."

Note that we've not yet see a "weird purple speedster" on the show. I'm assuming this is some foreshadowing on the part of the writers, and he (or she!) will pop up in Season 6.

• Nora's obsessed with the idea that there's a speedster running around Central City. She then goes to the Flash Museum to "research" the various colors of lightning generated by known speedsters.

For the record, the lightning colors are:
Yellow: As generated by good speedsters such as the Flash, Kid Flash, etc.
Red: Generated by evil speedsters, like the Reverse Flash, Black Flash and The Rival.
Blue: Generated when a speedster artificially boosts their speed, as Hunter Zolomon did with Velocity-9.
Purple: Generated by the Accelerated Man. Nothing more is known of this color.
White: Generated by Savitar, and now Godspeed.

• In the Flash Museum, Nora watches videos of both Zoom and Trajectory in action. Note that these videos look identical to the scenes we saw on the show. Why, it's almost like the Museum somehow took footage from actual episodes and used them in their exhibits! Amazing!

• Once again, Robert Picardo provides the voice of Dexter Myles, curator of the Flash Museum.

• For some reason this episode is a gold mine of references, featuring numerous businesses pulled from DC comics.

Nora and Lia meet with Dr. Bonwit of Ollins Labs. Believe it or not, both Bonwith and Ollins are from the comics. They first appeared in Firestorm (Vol. 2) #19.

When Nora first gets her powers, she speeds out of control, zooming out of the hospital and crashing into a laundry van labeled Gambi And Sons.

This is a fun little callback to Pilot, in which Barry first tested out his newfound powers and crashed into the back of a Gambi Cleaners laundry van. Apparently at some point in the future, Gambi's sons join the family business!

By the way, in the comics, Paul Gambi was a tailor who whipped up costumes for the Flash's Rogues Gallery.

Later Nora and Lia somehow sneak into Stagg Industries

Yet another reference to the comics, and the Arrowverse as well. On The Flash, Stagg first showed up in The Flash Season 1 episode Fastest Man Alive.

Nora visits the Tracy Brand Building on the Central City University campus. 

Tracy was an honorary member of Team Flash, and helped take down Savitar in Season 3. She first appeared in I Know Who You Are.

Lastly, Nora hides from Godspeed in an alley. Thawne asks her what she sees around her, and she rattles off several buildings, one of which is Choi Enterprises

This is likely a reference to Ryan Choi, who designed the ring that contains Barry's Flash-suit. In the comics, Ryan Choi was the third Atom.

• When Nora and Lia first encounter August Heart, he calls himself the God Of Speed. This causes Lia to shorten his title and dub him "Godspeed."

I get the name, but it doesn't make a lot of sense if you think about it. "Godspeed" is an expression of good will, usually said to someone at the start of a journey. "I wish you godspeed, good sir!" It's an odd thing to call a supervillain. It's like calling him "Happy Trails" or something.

• Godspeed first appeared in The Flash comic in 2016. In the comics, August Heart was a colleague of Barry Allen. Heart's brother was killed by a criminal who went free when incriminating evidence was destroyed by the lightning that turned Barry into a speedster (got all that?). 

As Heart tracks down the criminal who killed his brother, he's hit by lightning from a "Speed Force storm," whatever that is, and becomes a speedster himself. The storm turns dozens of other Central City residents— including many criminals into speedsters. Barry and August round up the "dishonest" speedsters before they can cause any trouble.

Later a mysterious speedster who calls himself "Godspeed" appears on the scene. He kills the bad speedsters and steals their powers for himself. Eventually Barry discovers Heart is actually Godspeed.

Disillusioned with the justice system, Godspeed becomes judge, jury and executioner, killing more and more speedsters and taking their powers. He becomes so fast he can literally be in two places at once, making it extremely difficult for Barry to defeat him.

There's about ten thousand more words I could write on his origin, but that'll do for now. 

• Nora wakes in the hospital after being blasted by Godspeed's lightning. Lia tells her she's lucky to be alive, as she was hit with five BILLION joules of electricity (how Lia determined that is left to our imaginations).

Five billion joules sounds like a lot, and it seems like Nora should have been turned into a raisin. Turns out that the average lightning bolt contains... five billion joules of juice! And people have survived being hit by lightning, so... you win this one, writers!

• Nora figures out that Godspeed needs dioxygen difluoride to stabilize the chemicals he's been stealing. She and Lia then sneak into Stagg Industries, find a barrel of the chemical and attempt to destroy it so Godspeed can't steal it.

Yeah, here's the thing... the idea of dioxygen difluoride being used as a STABILIZING agent is patently ridiculous. It's one of the most violently reactive substances in existence! It reacts with virtually every chemical there is! It even reacts with ice! 

It's known as "FOOF" among scientists, not only because that's what its chemical formula spells, but because that's how it explodes when mishandled. Most scientists refuse to touch the stuff or even be in the same lab with it!

• I'll probably get blasted for saying this, but whatever. Late in the second act, Future Iris finally shows up. Despite the fact that she's sixty years old (current Iris is thirty, and this episode takes place thirty years from now), she looks virtually unchanged. The only visoble signs of aging are a few streaks of gray hair. She doesn't even have any crow's feet, but corn's sake!

I guess it really is true that "Black Don't Crack!"

• I loved the scene in which Nora asks Iris if she knows anything about the dampening chip, then speeds across the room to give her a better look at it. Wow! Something about the calm, deadpan way Nora acts in that scene gave me chills. Well done!

• After Nora visits Thawne for the first time, Shinick activates a switch and tortures him. I'm a little unclear as to what exactly's happening here. Is Shinick electrocuting Thawne? Or is he somehow painfully drawing his Speed Force energy from him? The chamber fills with what could be red lightning, which is the Reverse Flash's signature color.

• By the way, about this torture scene... Shinick begins shocking (I guess?) Thawne before Nora's even hustled out of the prison. Thawne screams out as he's either electrocuted or has the speed force drained from him.

Nora then goes back to CCPD, where Lia tells her the chip was dampening her powers, and she's been a speedster her entire life. The two of them then sneak into Stagg Industries, where they encounter Godspeed. He kills Lia in front of Nora. Sometime later, Nora's moping in her apartment. Iris arrives, and Nora confronts her about the chip. Nora goes back to CCPD, where Detective Curtis tells her Godspeed is really August Heart. Nora goes to the Flash Museum to do more research.

Nora then returns to the prison, where we see SHINICK IS STILL TORTURING THAWNE!!! Jesus Jetskiing Christ! At least one full day passes between her visits to the prison. Possibly longer. Did Shinick really stand there shocking the sh*t out of Thawne that entire time? Or did we happen to see the beginning of one torture session, and then come in on the tail end of a second sometime later?

• Nora discovers August Heart is Godspeed, and examines his file.

Nora: "Says he was kicked out for testing tachyon stimulants on coma patients."
Detective Curtis: "What the hell's a tachyon?"
Nora: "A particle that moves faster than light."

OK, I get that Curtis is a cop and not a scientist, but Jesus, tachyons seem like pretty basic knowledge to me. Especially for someone thirty years in the future. Remember when Nora bragged about studying neuro-regeneration in her fifth grade STEM class?

• Note that according to August Heart's file, he hasn't been born yet! His date of birth is August (what a coincidence!) 10, 2021!

Note that apparently at some point in the next thirty years, America begins using the British date format, listing the day first, then the month.

• Godspeed begins chasing Nora through the streets of Central City, and she can't shake him. She calls out to Thawne, who tells her the only way to elude the evil speedster is to phase through a wall. He then gives her nearly the exact same speech he gave to Barry the first time he ever phased, way back in the Season 1 episode Tricksters.

For the record, here's 2049 Thawne's pep talk: 
"Nora, listen to me. Listen to my voice. Breathe. Breathe. Feel the wind on your face. The ground beneath your feet. And the lightning. Its electricity surging through your veins. To your nerve endings from the crown of your head to the tips of your toes like an electric shock you never want to end. You're part of something greater now, Nora. You are part of the Speed Force and its power, its power is yours to use. Now do it."

And here's 2015 Thawne's speech:
"Breathe, breathe. Feel the air. Feel that wind on your face. Feel the ground beneath your feet lifting you up and pushing you forward. And the lightning, Barry, feel the lightning. Feel its power, its electricity pumping through your veins, crackling through you, traveling to every nerve in your body like a shock. You’re no longer you now. You’re part of something grater. You’re part of a speed force. It’s yours. Now do it."

They're not quite the same, but they're pretty darned close.• Thawne then gives Nora a second pep talk, telling her "Run, Nora, Run." This is of course is a variation of what Thawne/Wells (and several others) have said to Barry many times over the course of the series.

• With Thawne's help, Nora discovers the Time Vault inside the Flash Museum, aka the former STAR Labs. Inside she activates Gideon, who plays her a message from Barry, which reveals he was the Flash. Nora's gobsmacked to discover her dad was secretly her number one meta hero.

How the hell could she NOT know he was the Flash? It's not like he kept it much of a secret when he was alive. He whips his mask off in practically every episode. At this point I don't think there's a single series regular who doesn't know who he really is.

So how the heck can Nora be the only one who doesn't know? Did Iris scrub her home of every single trace of the Flash?

• By the way, in Barry's message you can just make out a red sky in the background. This obviously means he recorded it during the upcoming Crisis On Infinite Earths, which has been foreshadowed since Season 1.

• In the third act, Barry tells Nora he sort of understands her turning to Thawne for help to learn how to use her powers and travel back in time. But he can't abide the fact that once she was here, she 
KEPT going back to Thawne rather than ask him for help.

He's got a valid point! Why DID she keep going back once she had a legitimate support group?

• Barry tells Nora he can't trust her and takes her back to 2049. He tells her if she tries time traveling again, he'll feel it in the Speed Force.

Um... what? Since when is that a thing? Has Barry always been able to sense time travel activity? I'm gonna say no, and chalk this up as a massive retcon.

I suppose I could be generous and say he doesn't normally feel time travelers, but he's gonna be on the lookout for them from now on.

• Barry definitely has a flair for the dramatic. When he strands Nora in 2049, he leaves her standing right smack in the middle of a bright spotlight! 

Maybe he's a fan of Mr. Bean?

This Week's Best Lines:
Meh. Not a lot of 'em this week.

(Lia tries to come up with a name for Nora once she becomes a speedster)
Lia: "Go get 'em, Flash Woman. Lady Flash. Hot Flash. Not that one."

Nora: "Okay, we're gonna workshop that later."

Thawne: "You need to work on your lying. Nora. Your shoes are new. But your soles are worn. You have singe marks on your sleeves and singe marks on your pant legs, but most of all, your cheeks are flushed with windburn. Oh, I know that windburn. I can still feel it. You're a speedster."
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