Friday, November 29, 2019

The Mandalorian Season 1, Episode 3: The Sin

This week on The Mandalorian, Manny makes a decision that threatens his position in the Bounty Hunter's Guild, there's more world-building concerning his race and of course there's more Baby Yoda. Oh, and after decades, we FINALLY get to see Mandalorians fighting in jet packs! What more could you ask for?

I've got to say, this series is definitely not going in the direction I thought it would. I was expecting the titular character to get into scrapes and situations on different planets each week by himself. I definitely did not foresee him teeming up with a baby!

And you know what? I think that's great! At this point I have absolutely no idea where the show's going, which I love. Kudos to the producers for doing something I didn't expect. See, Rian Johnson? It's possible to "subvert our expectations" and still turn out a great product, not one that should be buried behind the garage.

As of this episode, The Mandalorian has become my new favorite TV show. As I said a couple weeks ago, this series has rekindled my long-dormant interest in Star Wars. So far each episode has been great, which I have to admit is making me nervous. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, and for them to lay a big egg with a terrible episode. I hope that doesn't happen though.

There is one thing I don't like about the series, and that's its length. Eight measly episodes? What is this, the BBC? On the other hand, if smaller seasons allows them to make the show look more expensive, and prevents the scourge of filler episodes, then it's a trade-off I'm willing to make. 

So far each of the three episodes has been an homage to a specific corner in the action genre. The first episode was much like a Spaghetti Western, while the second was an definite nod to Lone Wolf And Cub. This week we get a sci-fi remake of the John Wick franchise, as the Guild members turn on Manny and begin hunting him.

Eh, that's OK now and then, but I'd like to see fewer homages please. I don't want the show to turn into "Spot The Influence" each week.

Lastly, hats off to the evil geniuses at Disney +, who figured out a way to use The Mandalorian to generate as many subscriptions as possible. Most streaming service, like your Netflixes and your Hulus, drop an entire season of a series all at once, so viewers can binge every episode in one day if they so desire.

Not Disney +, though! They're releasing one episode of The Mandalorian each week, doling them out like they're precious gems. They also have a free one week trial of their streaming service. But then you'd only get to see ONE free episode of the series. If you want to see the entire season, you'll have to subscribe. I'm sure all that's just a coincidence, and wasn't planned from the start by Disney.


The Plot:

The Razor Crest flies through hyperspace. Inside, the Mandalorian pilots the ship while Baby Yoda toddles around the cockpit. He pulls the cap off a lever, and Manny tells him it's not a toy and puts it back (PLOT POINT!).

Manny returns to The Client's planet (best I can do, as none of these worlds are ever identified). He enters The Client's compound and hands over the child. The Client compliments him on his bounty hunting skills, and gives him an impressive amount of Beskar steel as payment. As we learned in Chapter One, Beskar is invaluable to Mandalorians, as they make their armor from the rare and nigh-indestructible metal.

Doctor Pershing runs a scanner over Baby Yoda and says he's in perfect condition. Manny asks what they plan to do with the child. The Client says Manny fulfilled his contract and was paid, and icily reminds him it's against the Bounty Hunter Guild's rules to ask questions. Manny takes the metal and leaves. Baby Yoda looks mournfully at Manny as Doctor Pershing takes him away.

Manny goes directly to the Mandalorian HQ (which I guess is called the "Covert"), where he meets again with the Armorer. He hands her his payment, and she's shocked by the amount of Beskar inside it. She says it's enough to make him a full cuirass and more. She asks how his old armor was damaged, and he tells her a Mudhorn did it in the previous episode. She says his signet will be a Mudhorn then, but he declines, saying it wasn't a "noble kill."

The Armorer s
ays in lieu of a signet, she can give Manny's armor "whistling birds," (ANOTHER PLOT POINT!) which are tiny heat-seeking rockets built into his gauntlets. She finishes by warning him that his new armor will attract unwanted attention.

Right on cue, several other Mandalorians enter, curious about Manny's haul. One of them— Paz Vizla— examines the Beskar and sees the Imperial seal on it. He calls Manny a coward for dealing with the Empire. Manny tells him the Empire's gone and the Beskar's returned, so piss off.

The two then have a brief scuffle. The Armorer smooths things over by pointing out that Mandalorians are both hunter and prey, and says no one who chooses their life can be a coward. The Mandalorians all chant "This Is The Way," and that's the end of it. 

Manny tells the Armorer to give any excess Beskar to the Foundlings, since he used to be one. The Foundlings are the future of their race, so his generosity impresses the others and wins them over to his side.

Cut to Manny exiting the Covert with a bright, shiny suit of Beskar armor. He enters the Cantina and meets again with Greef Karga, who's happy to see him. Karga says he got a cut of the Beskar for himself, and shows Manny a couple bars hidden inside his coat (YET ANOTHER PLOT POINT!).

Karga says that pretty much every bounty hunter in town was contracted to find Baby Yoda, and they're all angry and bitter than Manny got to him first. He offers to take Manny out to celebrate, but he says no and asks for his next job. Karga sighs and offers him a bounty on a Mon Calamari bail-skipper. He asks Karga if he knows what they plan to do with Baby Yoda. Karga echoes The Client and tells him that as members of the Guild, it's none of their business.

Manny returns to his ship and prepares to blast off. He stares long and hard at the knob that Baby Yoda was playing with. Suddenly he powers down the ship and exits.

He returns to The Client's compound, where he disables the droid sentry. A couple Stormtroopers rush out to check on the commotion, and he blasts them away. We then get a thrilling action sequence as Manny moves through the compound, taking out a seemingly endless supply of Stormtroopers.

He makes it to the lab, where he sees Baby Yoda hooked up to a medical monitor. Doctor Pershing cowers nearby, and Manny raises his gun to shoot him. Pershing pleads for his life, saying it's only because of him that the baby's still alive. Manny pauses a moment, then grabs the baby and lets Pershing live.

Manny hurries toward the exit, when suddenly he's surrounded by more Stormtroopers. They demand he surrender and hand over the baby. He carefully sets Baby Yoda down, then activates his "whistling birds." They fly around the room as they seek out their targets and eliminate them.

Back in the Cantina, every bounty hunter's tracking fob lights up. It's not hard to figure out who the subject is!

Manny exits the compound and walks down the street. As he does so, more and more Guild members begin following him, ready to take him out for violating their rules. He shoots several fellow bounty hunters, but is eventually surrounded again.

Karga steps forward and tells Manny to hand over the baby and all will be forgotten. Of course Manny refuses, and there's another intense shootout between him and the Guild. The bounty hunters begin closing in on him. Realizing there's no way out, he takes a final look at Baby Yoda.

Suddenly there's a commotion, and a bunch of Iron Man's suits er, I mean several Manadolorians in jet packs show up and start blasting away at the bounty hunters. Paz Vizla's even there with some sort of laser Gatling gun. He nods to Manny, and he runs back to his ship while his brothers hold off the Guild members.

Manny makes it back to his ship, where he's confronted by Karga. He tells him he broke the Guild code, and he's not letting him get away. Suddenly Manny whips around and shoots Karza in the chest. He blasts off and flies into space.

Predictably, Karza comes to a few minutes later. He sits up and takes the Beskar ingot out of his jacket, and realizes it stopped Manny's blaster hit.

Manny flies off for parts unknown, with Baby Yoda at his side. The baby reaches for the lever knob again, and this time Manny unscrews it and gives it to him.


• As Manny approaches The Client's planet, Karga contacts him and welcomes him back, saying, "Upon your return, deliver the quarry directly to the client. I have no idea if he wants to eat it or hang it on his wall."

I assume that last part is a reference to Jabba the Hutt, who indeed hung the carbonate-incased Han Solo on his wall.

• As they fly along, Baby Yoda sees a shiny knob on the control panel. He climbs out of his floating crib, toddles over to the dashboard and pulls the knob off a lever.

Why didn't he just use the Force to levitate the knob over to him?

By the way, if you didn't realize this knob scene was going to be echoed at the end, then you've never seen an episode of any TV show before.

• I loved the scene in which Baby Yoda stared wide-eyed at the incoming ships in the docking port and all the activity in the street market. Best part was seeing the wind blowing his giant ears around!

By the way, I naturally assumed that throughout the series, Baby Yoda was a very well-done CGI creation. Imagine my surprise when I found out he's actually a real, on-set puppet! 

According to an article in Vanity Fair, series creator Jon Favreau and producer Dave Filoni filmed the puppet onset. They then removed it in order to shoot a clean plate, in case they decided to replace the puppet with a CGI version later.

Insane actor & director Werner Herzog (who plays The Client) found out what they were doing, and predictably flipped out. He called them both "cowards," and demanded they use the puppet in the series. As the two were terrified of upsetting their unpredictable star, they agreed.

I have a feeling the baby's not a puppet in every scene, especially ones in which we see him toddling around on two feet. And I suspect the puppet may be augmented with a bit of CGI, especially when it blinks. 

Still, I was pleasantly surprised when I found out it was real. Practical effects almost always look better than CGI.

• As payment for delivering Baby Yoda to him, The Client gives Manny his reward— a container filled with Beskar steel. According to him, the high-tech canister is called a "camtono."

Of course as everyone's figured out by now, the camtono is a reference to The Empire Strikes Back. In the film, Cloud City resident Wilrow Hood carries one under his arm as he flees from approaching Imperial forces!

And as all good Star Wars fans know, Hood's camtono was actually a 1970s ice cream maker!

• Baby Yoda looks plaintively at Manny as he's hauled away to Doctor Pershing's lab. If you weren't affected by this heartrending scene, you're already dead.

• When Manny walked through the street fair in Chapter One, we saw a vendor selling roasted Kowakian Monkey-Lizard on a spit. 

Apparently in this episode Manny's walking down the exact same street, because we see the vendor's still hawking barbecued Monkey-Lizard!

• The Mandalorian HQ on this planet is apparently called the "Covert."

• Manny's fellow Mandalorian Paz Vizla was voiced (but not physically played) by series creator Jon Favreau.

I'm told his name is similar to that of Pre Vizsla, a Mandalorian character from The Clone Wars animated series. No idea if there's any connection between the two characters or not. By the way, the name "Pre Vizsla" has to be an in-joke. In movie making, "pre-vis," or previsualization, is the process of creating animated storyboards.

• Lovin' the various Mandalorian helmet designs we see this week. They're all similar and yet completely distinct. Which helps a lot when so many characters are wearing full helmets!

• More world building this week: Inside the Covert, the Armorer and Manny have the following conversation:

Armorer: "How can one be a coward if one chooses this way of life? Have you ever removed your helmet?"

Manny: "No."
Armorer: "Has it ever been removed by others?"
Manny: "Never."
Armorer: "This is the Way."

In Chapter One we found out that Mandalorians never remove their helmets (apparently not even in public). Now we know that having them forcibly removed by another is the greatest indignity they can ever experience.

Knowing this, I hope the show never has Manny remove his helmet. I have a feeling it'll eventually happen though— especially since they've hired a reasonably well-known actor to play him. I'm afraid the temptation to show his face will be too great for them.

• At one point Manny & Vizla have a confrontation in the Covert. Something about this scene seemed familiar to me, but I couldn't quite figure out where I'd seen it before.

Then it hit me— it's similar to this concept art of the Cantina from A New Hope by famed Star Wars production artist Ralph McQuarrie! Not a perfect match, but very similar in framing and mood.

• This week I learned what a "cuirass" is. It's a breastplate/backplate combo in a suit of armor.

• During Manny's flashback to his childhood, we see his village (I guess) was attacked by Super Battle Droids. See, George Lucas? Battle Droids can be scary and menacing when they're not being played for cheap laughs!

• After seeing Chapter One, I assumed Manny would slowly replace his armor over the course of the season, until he had a full Beskar suit in the season finale. Nope! Looks like he replaced most of it in this episode! The lower pieces still look mismatched, but from the waist up it's all brand new.

• In The Empire Strikes Back, C-3PO and his pals get a tour of Cloud City from Lando Calrissian. At one point 3PO wanders away from the group and encounters a similar-looking silver droid. When 3PO greets him, the other droid replies with a curt "E chu ta."

In this episode Manny enters the Cantina, fresh off his success in locating The Client's asset. The Dust Breather, clearly angry and bitter with Manny, also utters "E chu ta" before turning away in disgust.

The phrase is never translated, but it's not hard to figure out that it's likely the Star Wars Universe equivalent of "F you."

• Karga says as a result of Manny's successful mission, he earned a cut of Beskar steel for himself. A couple things here:

First of all, as Karga brags to Manny, he pulls a couple ingots of steel out of his jacket and proudly displays them. Subtle! This was some pretty blatant foreshadowing, as there was no reason to show it to the audience unless it was going to come into play later.

Secondly, after seeing it, why would Manny allow Karga to keep the Beskar? Remember, it isn't just everyday currency to him— it's a sacred relic of his religion! It was supposedly taken from his people by the Empire, and the Mandalorians have devoted their lives to recovering it all.

Imagine if Manny was a priest, and Karga showed him he'd been paid in pages of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Think he'd let him keep 'em?

Seems to me like Manny would offer to buy the ingots from Karga at any price.

• The alien-looking alphabet seen in all Star Wars properties is called Aurebesh. You can see a sample of it when Manny activates the bounty puck in the cantina. I was curious as to what it actually said, so I found an Aurebesh site and translated it. I figured it was probably the name of the quarry, but it just says "WANTED."

• When Manny goes back for the baby, he finds its floating crib in the trash behind The Client's compound. Dayum, The Client! That was cold! 

This was the moment I knew that sh*t was about to go down. And I wasn't disappointed! It was very satisfying watching Manny eliminate all the Stormtroopers!

• Manny enters a lab at the rear of the compound, where he finds Doctor Pershing and Baby Yoda. Manny threatens to kill Pershing, but he begs for his life, saying the baby would be dead by now if not for him. Manny takes the baby and lets Pershing live. I have many questions about this scene...

First of all, is Pershing really as innocent as he seems? Earlier Manny overhears him arguing with The Client about the baby, so his story checks out. I still don't completely trust him though, and have a feeling he'll return later in the series and somehow cause trouble for Manny.

One reason I don't completely trust Pershing— there's a goddamned torture droid floating next to him in the lab! The exact same one Darth Vader used against Princess Leia way back in A New Hope! If Pershing is on the level, then what's that droid doing there?

Lastly, when Manny enters the lab, Pershing pleads "No. Please, please don't hurt him. It's just a child." This implies that he doesn't recognize Manny. But he just saw him an hour ago! How the hell does he not realize he's the same guy? 

I'm assuming Pershing doesn't recognize Manny because of his shiny new armor. But it's not THAT different! Other than the color and texture, it looks exactly the same as his old gear.

• So, about those Whistling Birds. Stupid name, awesome weapon!

• When Manny was surrounded by Karga and the other bounty hunters at the end, I was honestly wondering how he was gonna get out of this one. I half expected Baby Yoda to wake & save him with the Force!

• This Greedo did definitely NOT shoot first!

• One of the bounty hunters threatening Manny has a distinctive series of horns on his head. I wonder if he's from the same species as Darth Maul?

• "Jarvis, activate House Party Protocol!"

• I was sorely dismayed by Boba Fett's poor showing way back in The Return Of The Jedi. After his brief introduction in Empire, I naturally assumed we'd get a spectacular action setpiece featuring Fett flying around in Jedi, as he kicked ass and took names. 

Imagine my disappointment when he turned out to be a bumbling idiot who was taken out by a blind Han Solo— and by accident yet!

So I was thrilled that at long last, after forty years, I FINALLY got to see a flying Mandalorian in a glorious action scene. It's about time!

• What could be more badass than an oversized Mandalorian with a jetpack, wielding a laser Gatling gun? Nothing, that's what!

• Best thing about the shootout at the end? At one point Manny fires at a bounty hunter on a roof. He topples and falls off, and amazingly doesn't utter the annoyingly overused Wilhelm Scream!

• In the final minutes of the episode, Manny returns to his ship, where he's confronted by Karga. Manny whips around and fires, hitting Karga square in the chest and seemingly killing him.

If you were worried about Karga's fate here, then you weren't paying attention. His survival was heavily foreshadowed in the Cantina, when he showed Manny he had a couple bars of Beskar steel tucked under his jacket. It was patently obvious the metal would end up saving his life, else why would they have gone to the trouble to establish it?

I'm assuming Manny didn't actually want to kill Karga, so he deliberately shot him in the ingots (that sounded dirty), knowing they were there and that they'd protect him. You can even hear Manny's shot "plink" off the metal as it hits it!

• OK, I could have reeeeeally done without Manny's brother-in-arms throwing him a salute at the end. Talk about cheesy! How about a subtle nod instead? Mandalorians tend to move as little as possible, as if they're constantly conserving their energy. A slight nod would have made more sense and been far less cringeworthy.

• As they fly off toward an uncertain future, Manny takes the knob from the lever and gives it to Baby Yoda to play with. As I said above, if you didn't see this end scene coming, then you've never watched a second of any TV show before.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Planes, Trains And Thirty Two Years

Happy 32nd Anniversary to Planes, Trains And Automobiles, which premiered on November 25, 1987.

Planes, Trains And Automobiles is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I try to watch it every year. It's also one of the few Thanksgiving movies out there, as that particular holiday doesn't seem to get much love from Hollywood.

As much as I love the film though, it's definitely become a period piece over the years. 98% of the problems Neal Page faces in his struggle to get home for Thanksgiving could be solved today with a simple cell phone! It was a different time in 1987.

Anyway, what better way to commemorate the movie's anniversary than by re-running a post that originally appeared back in 2012? Enjoy!


Every Thanksgiving I make it a point to watch Planes, Trains And Automobiles. It's one of my favorite movies and even though I've probably seen it 25 times I never get tired of it.

During this year's viewing I picked up on something I never noticed before. In one of my favorite scenes, Gus' son Owen comes to pick up Neal Page and Del Griffith (Steve Martin and John Candy) and drive them to Wichita to catch a train.

Owen is a semi-sentient tobacco chewing hillbilly who can barely string two words together.

He also has a bizarre and rasping sinus condition that punctuates (and sometimes interrupts) his sentences. Owen's only onscreen for little more than a minute, but he makes a memorable impression, especially when he regales the pair about his wife who didn't scream when her first baby "came out sideways."

Imagine my surprise during this year's viewing when realized that Owen was played by none other than character actor Dylan Baker! Baker's been in a ton of movies and TV shows, but is probably most recognized as Dr. Curt Connors in Spider-Man 2 and Spider-Man 3.

He cleans up real nice, doesn't he? Amazingly, Planes, Trains And Automobiles was Baker's feature film debut. I've watched that Owen scene dozens of times and it never once occurred to me that he was played by Baker. I just assumed they found some real life local redneck to play the part. I surely never suspected he was played by an actual Hollywood actor.

I say this without any sarcasm or irony it's a remarkable piece of acting and Dylan Baker deserved some kind of award for throwing himself into the role and making himself completely unrecognizable.

The Flash Season 6, Episode 6: License To Elongate

This week on The Flash we take a break from our regular storylines, as License To Elongate veers deep into James Bond territory.

Yep, that's right— this is a filler episode. And we're only six shows into the season! According to rumor, the current Bloodwork storyline is supposed to wrap up in the eight episode. With that few installments, you wouldn't think they'd need to resort to padding this soon, but yet here we are.

That said, License To Elongate may be a filler episode, but it's a good filler episode! It's a fun, lighthearted little romp featuring Barry and Ralph playing super-spy. The two of them have a fun, breezy chemistry, and any time they team up it's always comedy gold. I wish we got more episodes with just the two of them.

This week's episode was directed by Danielle Panabaker, who plays Caitlin Snow/Killer Frost. She does a great job here, as this episode was a vast improvement over the Season 5 episode Godspeed, her first directorial outing. 

Last season Cisco sat out several episodes, leading many (including myself!) to speculate that actor Carlos Valdes was leaving the show. That rumor turned out to be false of course. But, Cisco does sit out this episode for some reason. And so it begins! Let the rumors start percolating again.


The Plot:
Nash Wells takes Team Flash to the sewers (fun!), where he shows them the door he's trying to open— which leads to The Monitor's interdimensional lair. He says The Monitor is a false god, and he plans to take him down. This will have the added benefit of saving Barry. Yeah, I don't think that's how it works, but whatever. 

Barry tries to phase through the door but is thrown across the tunnel. Nash explains the door's infused with Eternium, which generates an anti-vibrational field. He says he needs to locate a special artifact in order to illuminate the Eternium so he can dig around it.

Meanwhile at Star Labs, Chester Runk's (remember him?) body finally stabilizes, and he steps out of the MAC chamber. He looks around and somehow realizes he's inside STAR, which is like a high tech playground to him. Frost enters, and his enthusiasm is dampened somewhat when she tells him he's been declared legally dead.

At CCPD, Barry & Joe plan a secret press conference, in which the Flash will declare Elongated Man as Central City's new protector. Ralph enters and says he's heading for Midway City to pursue the Sue Dearbon missing person case. Barry's afraid Ralph won't be back in time for the press conference the next day, so he goes with him to help speed (heh) things along.

Cut to Midway City, where Ralph and Barry stake out a black tie gala at a luxury hotel. Ralph has reason to believe the host knows Sue and where to find her. He and Barry don tuxes and crash the party.

Inside, Ralph schmoozes with wealthy socialite January Galore (!), while Barry awkwardly makes a fool of himself. January realizes they've crashed the party, and warns them to leave before they're thrown out. As she walks off, Ralph reveals to Barry that he stole her ticket to the VIP lounge.

Allegra (remember her?) arrives at The Citizen, where she sees Nash rifling through the office. Naturally she thinks he's known criminal Harrison Wells, but he explains he's from another Earth. Apparently that's all it takes to convince her. He's using his wrist gauntlet to search for a powerful UV emitter, which he believes is in Iris' office for some reason. He then realizes Allegra's a meta, and the UV readings are 
coming from her. She refuses to help him, until he promises to give her the scoop of the century.

Cecile helps Chester with his legal mess, getting him declared alive and reinstating his credit and such (that was quick!). He's still pining after his crush Natalie, so Cecile agrees to use her empathic powers to help him ask her out.

Chester orders coffee, and Natalie delivers it to him at Cecile's office (I guess?). Cecile senses Natalie's emotions and radios them to Chester. Unfortunately her advice is woefully inaccurate, causing Chester to become flustered and spill coffee all over Natalie. Frost, who's also here for some reason, tells Chester he should just be himself. Cecile says the problem is that Chester doesn't know who he is, but then realizes she's talking about herself (?).

Ralph & Barry enter the VIP lounge, where they meet their host Remington Meister, a German Goldfinger knockoff. They pump him for info about Sue, but Meister says no one's seen her for six months. For some reason Barry asks him to check the guest list to see if Sue's on it. Meister does so, and says Sue's not on the list and neither are they. D'oh! Ralph smooths things over, and Meister says he likes him. Barry not so much. Meister leaves and tells his assistant to put their "friend" on high alert. We then see Ultraviolet far above the crowd, keeping an eye on Ralph and Barry.

Barry thinks they should leave, but Ralph's reluctant. He points out several known criminals in the crowd, and says Meister's up to something and he wants to find out what.

Nash takes Allegra to the sewer, where he gives her his big scoop. He tells her all about the Multiverse and The Monitor, as well as inadvertently blurting out the fact that Barry Allen's the Flash 
(as if there's anyone left in Central City who doesn't know). When Nash says he plans to kill The Monitor, Allegra becomes upset and refuses to help.

Back at the gala, Barry suits up as the Flash and checks out the hotel at superspeed, confirming that Sue isn't there. Suddenly Ultraviolet appears and stuns him. Ralph sneaks into the security room and discovers Meister's working on the Ring Of Fire— an orbiting missile launcher straight out of a Bond movie. He loads the info onto a flash drive, but Meister appears and knocks him out using his electrically charged rings.

Allegra gets lost in the sewers and reluctantly returns to Nash. He somehow knows about her cousin Ultraviolet, and thinks Allegra's afraid she'll turn into her if she uses her powers. He gives her a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, which convinces her to help him. She blasts the door with UV rays, and a dimensional map briefly appears on it. Nash snaps a pic of it with his high tech gauntlet.

Ralph and the Flash wake to find themselves tied to a chair, with meta-cuffs on. Meister enters with Ultraviolet, who he broke out of Iron Heights Prison (convenient). He goes into full Bond villain mode, monlogueing that he intends to sell the Ring Of Fire to the highest bidder. And thanks to the Flash, he'll demonstrate it on Central City. Meister then unveils a laser cannon, points it at the two heroes and of course leaves.

Figuring they're going to die, Flash tells Ralph that he planned to make him Central City's official new protector. Ralph's touched, but says Barry Allen is just as important as the Flash, if not more so (???). He tells Barry to pull off one of his cufflinks and flick it at the cannon. Barry does so, and that somehow causes the cannon to start firing wildly throughout the room (???). Barry realizes there's a pattern to its blasts, and he and Ralph turn their chairs. The laser slices through their ropes, freeing them. Luckeeeee! 

Barry's ready to rush off and round up Meister at superspeed. For some bizarre reason, Ralph says this is a job that calls for finesse, and they can do it without their powers.

Chester asks Cecile what's got her on edge. She says the minute she resigned as DA, the city immediately replaced her, so she can't go back to her old job if this new one's a flop. 
Chester gives her a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, telling her she didn't fail him. He decides to go ask Natalie out without any meta help.

Cut to a large auditorium, where Meister's auctioning off the Ring Of Fire. Before the bidding begins, he fires it up and punches in Central CIty's coordinates to demonstrate its destructive firepower. Suddenly Barry staggers onto the stage, pretending to be drunk. He manages to distract everyone long enough for Ralph to shut down the Ring.

Meister and Ultraviolet then attack Ralph and Barry, who fight back without their powers. Why'd the writers think this was a good idea? Your guess is as good as mine. There's some kicking and punching, and Meister stuns Ralph and reactivates the Ring. 

Barry grabs a sword off the floor (???) and uses it to cut a rope attached to a lighting rig. If falls on Ultraviolet and knocks her out. Ralph comes to and uses the flash on his camera tie (don't ask) to momentarily blind Meister. Barry punches him out, and Ralph activates the Ring Of Fire's self-destruct mode (there's allllllllllways a self-destruct).

Cecile asks Chester how things went with Natalie. He says she turned him down, but surprisingly it wasn't the end of the world. Cecile decides to embrace her new job (which I thought she'd already done) and market herself. She tells Chester he'd be a good fit at STAR Labs and gives him an invite, which seems like something she should check with Barry & Cisco first.

At CCPD, Joe says Meister's behind bars. He and the Flash then hold their press conference, in which Elongated Man is made Central City's newest protector. For no good reason, the Flash then speeds off. Ralph then unexpectedly calls Barry to the podium and Joe gives him the Medal Of Honor and thanks him for his service.

At The Citizen, Allegra asks Nash why he's being so nice to her. He says she reminds him of someone, and gives her a melancholy smile. Hmm...

Ralph meets with Iris, and shows her a photo he took at Meister's party, featuring someone wearing a pin. Iris says she recognizes it and immediately leaves to investigate. Ralph then looks out over the city. Suddenly Bloodwork appears behind him and attacks. The two grapple and fall off the side of the building.

• As I said in the intro, Cisco sits out this entire episode. Much like he did eight or nine times last season. I assume he was bumped him to make room for incredibly important and compelling characters like Allegra and Chester.

Actually, the in-universe reason for Cisco's absence may be that he and Kamilla went to Earth-19 for Gypsy's remembrance service.

At the end of the previous episode, Nash smugly announced, "I know how to save Barry Allen!"

This week Team Flash demands he explain himself. So Nash takes 'em all down to the sewers and starts spouting off about The Monitor, saying, "He's a false god. One that I intend to take down, thereby saving your husband." So... he doesn't really know how to save Barry after all— it's just a fortunate byproduct of killing The Monitor.

I suppose you could say his statement is technically correct. Which of course is the best kind of correct!

• Things we learn this week: Ralph apparently carries a jackhammer around in his car!

• As happened back in Into The Void, this week The Flash bends over backward in an attempt to convince us that Chester's a charming and adorable goofball, and that we should all love him as much as the other characters do.

Yeah, nice try, episode, but that's not how it works. You're supposed to present the character to the audience and let us decide if they're lovable or not. You don't tell us how to feel.

This is known as an "informed attribute." It's when the writers talk up a character and point out how amazing they are, when there's clearly no evidence to support it.

• When Chester finally wakes and staggers out of the MAC chamber, he finds out he was declared legally dead. We even get a glimpse of his obit, which is filled with background info on him. The obit reads:
On October 9, 2019, Chester Phineas Runk, scientist and extra-terrestrial enthusiast, passed away at 28 years young. 
Chester was born on July 5, 1991. He received a degree in mechanical engineering from M.T.T. and spent the rest of his short life creating technology in an attempt to contact aliens.
Chester had a passion for many things— science, technology, science fiction— but perhaps his greatest passion was for Jitters coffee. A regular at CC Hitters, Chester loved Vibe-acincos and will no doubt be greatly missed by the baristas there. He will also be missed by the millions of subscribers to his popular online video channel, "Garage Science!" where he would host his various experiments.
Chester is survived by his grandmother, Gertrud Runk, who would like everyone to know that, while losing Chester is a great tragedy, she is comforted by the fact that being swallowed by a black hole is the way Chester would have wanted to go."
Several things here. The obit lists his date of death as October 9. Into The Void, the episode in which Chester was introduced, aired on October 8, 2019. So his time of "death" checks out.

More importantly though, why exactly was he declared dead in the first place? He never actually died he accidentally created and absorbed a black hole, Team Flash fixed him and then placed him in the MAC chamber to stabilize his body. That's... not anything close to dying.

And who declared him dead? In Into The Void, Cecile announced that she (improbably) threw Chester over her shoulder and carried him out of the hospital to STAR Labs. Did Team Flash call up the hospital later and say, "Hey, you know that patient the DA abducted? Yeah, he's dead now." I don't get it.

Lastly, what about Chester's poor ol' Granny Gertrud? When Chester finds out he's legally dead, one would think his first action would be to call up his granny and tell her it was all a big mistake. Nope! Instead, all he can think about is asking out Natalie. And we're all supposed to automatically love this guy?

By the way, what happened to Chester's glasses? He wears them in Into The Void and here in his obit photo, but they're curiously absent all through this episode. Did the MAC repair his eyes while it was stabilizing his cells?

One more thing about Chester and his "death." Once he recovers, Cecile helps him reestablish his identity, including getting him a new credit card. Presumably this is a brand new account, as all his old debt was probably stricken from the books when he "died."

That settles it! I'm faking my own death!

• More things we learned this week: Apparently Jitters was destroyed when Chester accidentally opened a black hole outside it back in the season premiere.

That's news to me, since in that episode I pointed out that the black hole opened just three feet away from Jitters' entrance, and even though it shattered the glass it left the doors and storefront completely unaffected. Did the black hole weaken the building, and it collapsed while we weren't looking? Where are the characters gonna meet up now?

• OK, this episode is packed to the rafters with James Bond references— most of them from Goldfinger. Might as well get 'em out of the way now.

• Remington Meister is obviously a reference to Bond villain Goldfinger, from the movie of the same name. Meister wears electrified rings on each of his fingers and uses them to attack his opponents. I'm sure there's a Goldfinger joke in there somewhere.

Much like James Bond, Ralph introduces himself as "Dibney. Ralph Dibney." This is actually the second time he's said that this season. And he wore a tux both times!

When Barry sees Ralph's bow tie camera, he asks if he also has a knife in his shoe and a grapple hook in his belt. Colonel Rosa Klebb had a knife shoe in From Russia With Love, while the belt is a reference to Goldeneye. The tie camera may be a nod to On Her Majesty's Secret Service, in which Bond uses a tiny spy cam.

The name "January Galore" is obviously a reference to Pussy Galore, the love interest in Goldfinger. She began the tradition of Bond women with provocative names.

Ralph tells the bartender, "Gingold martini. Shaken, not stirred." Bond always ordered his vodka martinis with the same instructions.

Meister plays Mahjong with Ralph & Barry (who clearly don't understand the game) at a gala attended by criminals. The game, the gala and the tuxes are all clearly a reference to Dr. No.

Meister ties up the Flash & Ralph, monologues a bit, then points a laser cannon at them and leaves. In Goldfinger, the titular character tried to kill Bond with a similar piece of tech.

Meister's Ring Of Fire is similar to the missile launcher Bond had to destroy in GoldenEye.

• Remington Meister's gala is held inside a luxury hotel or museum in Midway City.

Oddly enough, this venue looks a LOT like the Pacific Central Station in Vancouver! Apart from the large neon letters on the Station's roof, the two buildings could pass as twins. Strange.

By the way, Midway City's been mentioned before, but this is the first time it's actually appeared on the show.

• When they're staking out the gala, Ralph says Sue Dearbon was last seen wearing a one-of-a-kind Victoria Vale dress.

This is likely a Batman reference. Closed-captioning spelled the name "Victoria Veil," but I'm assuming that's a typo. In DC Comics, Vicki Vale has traditionally been Bruce Wayne's gal pal.

• I loved the scene at the gala where Barry's in the background, choking on caviar. As he walks toward Ralph and January Galore, he even uses a napkin to try & wipe the stuff off his tongue!

I can relate! If you've never had caviar, it's definitely an acquired taste. It's got an coppery, metallic flavor, similar to how I imagine rabbit droppings would taste.

By the way, this scene also highlights just how good Grant Gustin is at physical comedy. Too bad he doesn't get to do more of it in the show.

• Ralph steals January Galore's ticket to the gala's VIP lounge. Apparently this golden tile allows him to take a plus one with him, because they let Barry in as well even though he didn't have a ticket of his own.

• So Allegra sees Nash and immediately thinks he's wanted mass murderer Harrison Wells. A perfectly natural response, seeing as Nash looks exactly like him. But when Nash explains that he's actually from another Earth in the Multiverse, Allegra INSTANTLY buys his story and agrees to help him! Well, that was easy! 

If you're ever wrongly suspected of a crime, try telling the police you're just a doppelganger of the real perp and see if they believe you!

• Nash talks Allegra into using her UV powers to blast The Monitor's door, so the Eternium inside will show up. It does so, but it also looks like letters at the top (???). In fact it looks more like a map of the Multiverse than a random collection of Eternium deposits.

IS it a map? And if so, did Nash know that, and just made up the story about cutting around the Eternium? I wouldn't put it past him to lie here, but on the other hand, I can't think of a reason as to why he would.

• Ever since Allegra was introduced, I've wondered why the hell she's on the show. The cast is already bursting at the seams, to the point where certain characters are forced to sit out episodes to make room for the others. So what the hell were they thinking adding even more to the mix?

This week gives us a possible clue as to why Allegra exists. At the end of the episode, she asks Nash why he's being so nice to her. He smiles wistfully and says he reminds her of someone.

I see two possible situations here. Allegra is the Earth-1 doppelganger of Nash's daughter who may or may not be dead. Or, like Harry Wells of Earth-3, Nash has a daughter named Jesse and Allegra reminds him of her.

• At the gala, Barry uses his superspeed to search the place for Sue. Unfortunately he doesn't find her. Oddly enough, he doesn't seem to spot Ultraviolet during his search either, as she captures him a few minutes later.

I'm imagining him zipping through the hotel, seeing Ultraviolet and asking, "Say, have you seen Sue Dearbon anywhere around here? No? OK, carry on with what you were doing then."

• After being knocked out, Barry & Ralph wake to discover they're clamped to a chair. Barry tries to vibrate out of his bonds, but Ralph tells him not to bother, as they're meta-dampened. 

I tell, you, meta-dampeners must be a dime a dozen in the Arrowverse. EVERYONE seems to have them at all times. You'd think such specific hi-tech devices would be scarce, or reserved for special situations. Apparently they're just lying around on the streets, free for the picking.

• After Meister captures the Flash and Ralph, he begins monologuing and explains his plan to them. Barry says, "And let me guess, you're gonna add my unmasking to your little auction?" Meister replies, "Oh, I could care less about your secret identity, Flash. My interests are global."

Arghh! That settles it! Only an irredeemable villain would ever say, "I could care less."

• According to the Arrowverse wiki, Central City is located somewhere in Missouri. This episode confirms that, as we see the Ring Of Fire's targeting scanner zooms more or less into the center of the U.S.

If you look closely, once the zoom slows down you can even see the river that's always visible in every STAR Labs establishing shot! Nice attention to detail!

• In the third act, Ralph and Barry fight Meister and Ultraviolet without using their powers. At first I just assumed Meister's auditorium was meta-dampened, so they couldn't use their powers even if they wanted to.

Nope! Turns out they fought sans powers because Ralph was trying t
o prove that Barry Allen is every bit as worthy as the Flash. Or something like that. No really! Seems like there were better (and less dangerous!) ways to pump up his self confidence.

• Best part of the episode: When Barry, pretending to be drunk, sees Ultraviolet and says, "I love Mortal Kombat! " Haw!

• During the end battle, Ultraviolet pulls out a clear ring that looks for all the world like an identity disk from Tron (???). At no time is this device ever referenced or explained.

• Ralph defeats Meister by temporarily blinding him with the flash in his bow tie spy cam. Let me repeat that his spy camera has a flash in it. Let that sink in a minute...

 True to form, the Ring Of Fire's one minute countdown actually lasts for ninety seconds. And of course Ralph shuts it down with exactly one second to go.

• Why's Barry leaving the protection of Central City to Elongated Man? I get that he's the only option, since Cisco no longer has any powers and Killer Frost is a known felon. But what's Elongated Man gonna do to keep the city safe? Stretch out his leg and trip fleeing criminals? His power just doesn't seem all that useful— especially when you stack it up next to the Flash's superspeed.

One more thing about this press conference— The Flash says a few words in front of the press without bothering to blur his face or alter his voice in any way. A few seconds later he returns as Barry Allen, with the same face and voice. And no one in the press corps says a word!

Clearly everyone in Central City knows the Flash's (and likely Elongated Man's) secret identity, and are just being nice and not saying anything. Heck, in the Season 5 finale Captain Singh admitted as much, saying he figured out Barry's "secret" identity years ago, but played along as a professional courtesy.

• At the end of the episode, Venom, er, I mean Ramsey Rosso appears and attacks Ralph. I make that same Venom joke every week, but it doesn't make it any less true. Ramsey is basically Venom at this point. Any second I expect him to start talking about wanting to eat brains.

By the way, apparently many fans are worried about Ralph after this cliffhanger ending, fearing he's being killed off (!). I guess they've never seen a TV show before? Eh, I wouldn't worry too much about him. The producers just cast actress Natalie Dreyfuss as Sue Dearbon, so unless they're planning on teaming her up with Ralph's corpse, I think he'll be fine.

This Week's Best Lines:

Chester: (finding a device in Cisco's toolbox) "A sonic wrench? Good morning, guv'nor! I'm the Doctor! Pew!"

(At the gala, Barry leans in close to Ralph and tries to adjust his bow tie.)

Ralph: "Now I have ten selfies of inside Barry Allen's nose."
Barry: "A camera tie? What, you have a knife shoe and a grapple hook belt too?"
Ralph: (defiantly) "Maybe."

Nash: "OK, Accelerant."
Allegra: (indignant) "Allegra!"

Meister: (to Ralph) "I like you."
(Meister looks at Barry.)
Meister: "Him? Nicht so viel."
(As you can probably guess, that translates to "not so much.")

Nash: "I freaked you out, didn't I?"
Allegra: "Watching Rag Doll eat while in Iron Heights is freaky."

Ralph: "Do you expect me to talk?"
Meister: "No, Mr. Dibny... I expect you to die!"

Ralph: "Oh, come on! That line is literally from Goldfinger!"

Barry: (pretending to be drunk as he crashes Meister's auction) "I'll bid on your stupid laptop."

January Galore: (bidding) "$500 million."
Barry: "$500 million and one dollar. Price is Right rules!"
Related Posts with Thumbnails
Site Meter