Friday, August 27, 2021

Stargirl Season 2, Episode 1: Summer School: Chapter One

This week, it's the big Season 2 premiere of Stargirl!

I gotta say, when the show debuted last year I honestly wasn't expecting much. I figured it'd be another terrible, subpar woke-fest like the detestable Batwamen, filled to the brim with man-hating SJW screeds and lectures. 

Surprisingly, that wasn't the case, as the show turned out to be quite good, and a breath of fresh air. The writing was sharp, the characters were likeable and well-defined, and series was surprisingly emotional and heartfelt. It was visually impressive as well, looking more like a film than a TV show. It was filled with beautiful cinematography, impressive fight choreography and movie-quality CGI effects. In short, I was amazed.

And I know it's a cliché at this point, but Stargirl most definitely subverted my expectations. The characters on the show were actually smart and made rational decisions— something not often seen on other Arrowverse shows. The plotlines went in surprising directions as well, as the series wasn't afraid to kill off major characters at completely unexpected times. Best of all, the villains were three dimensional, and felt like real people rather than comic book characters. What more could you ask for?

I'm hopeful they'll be able to keep up that quality in Season 2 as well. 

Season 1 debuted on DC Universe, one of the hundreds— make that thousands— of streaming services that are out there right now. For reasons known only to Warner Bros., it was decided to move Season 2 of the show to The CW

I was a bit worried by the news of this move, as The CW is notoriously cheap and its shows generally operate on a shoestring budget. I worried they'd slash Stargirl's budget, and we;d see an obvious drop in quality. 

Happily I didn't notice any difference in the Season 2 premiere, so I'm hoping they'll keep up the good work. Fingers, legs, arms and toes crossed!

So far Stargirl seems to be segregated from the rest of the Arrowverse, as Courtney & Co. are locked into their own world of Earth-2. I think that's a great idea. It simplifies and streamlines the stories, as there's no crossovers or tedious baggage from the many other shows. In fact I hope they keep her on her own Earth for the length of the series!

As for this week's episode, there's not a lot in the way of action. Instead it spends most of its runtime reintroducing the characters and setting up their conflicts and story arcs for the rest of the season.

Note that I'm not complaining here, as that's actually a good thing. Despite the fact that there's not a lot that happens, it was still a compelling hour (well, more like forty two minutes) of TV.

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
Prologue: Melody Hills, Indiana— "Decades Ago"

A young girl named Rebecca asks if she can go to a birthday party across the street. Her mother says no, as she's being punished. Angry, hurt and resentful, Rebecca sits on the porch and glares at the party house.

Suddenly a young boy appears and says his name's Bruce. He invites her to the party, but Rebecca says she can't go. Bruce tells her to ignore her mother, and eventually Rebecca sneaks across the street with him. She sees a pile of presents on the porch, and Bruce goads her into taking one.

Rebecca grabs a present and opens it on the lawn. Inside she finds a gross and dirty doll. She picks it up for some reason, and its eyes glow red. Rebecca turns and sees Bruce holding a purple jewel to his eye, as he tells her she's a bad girl.

Rebecca's mother comes outside looking for her. Figuring she sneaked over to the party, she marches across the street. There she screams as she finds Rebecca dead on the lawn. The camera pulls back to reveal Rebecca's mailbox, which reads "McNider."

End Prologue.

In present day Blue Valley, the new Justice Society— consisting of Stargirl, Wildcat, Hourman and Dr. Mid-Nite— patrol the city. Fortunately for the town, they don't find any criminal activity. Stargirl wants to make another sweep just to make sure, but the others insist on calling it a night. They try to tell her that with the members of the Injustice Society either dead or behind bars, there's no point in patrolling anymore.

Cut to sometime later, as Courtney's in her basement poring through old JSA files. Pat comes downstairs and asks what she's doing, pointing out it's 4 AM. She says she has a responsibility as Stargirl to keep the town safe. Pat tells her she needs to find a balance between superheroing and a normal life, and sends her off to bed. A second after they leave, the Green Lantern's er, lantern begins to glow.

The next morning, Pat & Barb announce that they're all going on a two week family vacation at a lake house in Yellowstone Park. Courtney's aghast, as she wants to keep patrolling. Mike's not crazy about the idea either, as he hoped Pat would show him how to drive his STRIPE robot. Unfortunately for the two of them, they're outvoted by their parents.

Elsewhere, Beth Chapel's at home, desperately trying to repair and reboot the Chuck AI in her Dr. Mid-Night goggles (which were damaged by Icicle in the Season 1 finale). Unfortunately it doesn't work. Beth's parents enter, and she hands out the breakfasts she made for them. After they rush off to work, she accidentally spots a stack of divorce papers on the counter.

Rick drives through the forest surrounding his house on the way to school. As the radio reports a rash of food-related robberies, he sees a couple of recently-felled trees. He gets out to investigate and finds several empty syrup jugs— as well as a massive, booted footprint. He realizes Solomon Grundy (the ISA's muscle) is hiding out somewhere in the woods.

Meanwhile, Yolanda stops by a church on the way to school, and enters a confessional booth. A priest asks if she's ready to talk, and she says she'd rather just sit in silence. After a time she exits the booth, and starts having unsettling visions of killing Brainwave in the Season 1 finale. She runs from the church in a panic. 

Courtney catches up with Yolanda and tells her she'll be gone for two weeks. Sensing something's off, she asks if Yolanda's OK. She says no, as she doesn't deserve to be Wildcat after what she did. Courtney tries to console her by saying Brainwave would have killed them all if Yolanda hadn't taken him out first. Yolanda says that doesn't make it right.

Courtney then sees Cameron Mahkent (the son of the late Jordan Mahkent, aka Icicle), and starts to go talk with him. Yolanda stops her, saying he might find out how his father died.

At his garage, Dugan asks his friend Zeek to mind the place while he's on vacation. Zeek asks what's in the storeroom (where STRIPE is kept), and Dugan nervously says it's just storage and there's no reason to ever go in there.

Later at school, one of Rick's teachers tells him he aced his final, and demands to know how he did it. He says for once he actually studied, but she doesn't believe him. She says she's going to make him take a new test in front of her, but he refuses. She threatens to flunk him, and he tells her to go ahead as he storms out.

Meanwhile, Courtney, Yolanda and Beth are eating lunch in the cafeteria. They notice Beth's not her usual perky self, and she says it just "Last Day Of School Blues," which of course isn't a thing. Just then Artemis Crock (daughter of Sportsmaster & Tigress) enters, and seemingly swings a hockey stick at Courtney. She springs into action and attacks, pinning Artemis to the floor. Artemis asks what the hell, as she was simply handing the stick to a nearby friend. Principal Sherman (the late Principal Bowin's replacement) tells Courtney to come with him.

Cut to Courtney, Pat & Barb in the Principal's office. He tells her parents that she's fitting in nicely (other than today's fight), but is flunking two classes. If she wants to become a Junior, she'll have to go to summer school. Cue sad trombone.

Outside the office, Barb says Courtney promised her schoolwork would come before superheroing. She says now because of Courtney, the family vacation's canceled. A disappointed Dugan says she's gonna have to decide if putting on the mask is worth messing up the rest of her life. Courtney says at least she's not quitting like he did, then realizes she crossed a line. He tells her there'll be no Stargirl for two weeks, while she focuses on school.

Elsewhere in Nevada, Sylvester Pemberton enters a diner. A waitress named Maggie asks what he'd like, and he says he needs to talk with her ex-husband. When she asks which one, he says, "The one who likes stripes."

Back in Blue Valley, Courtney walks dejectedly down the street. She sees Cameron prepping to paint a mural, and decides tot talk with him. Across the street, Cameron's grandparents Lily & Sofus watch. Lily doesn't approve of Courtney, but Sofus says to leave them alone, as Courtney's making Cameron smile for once.

Pat goes to the garage to tell Zeek he won't need his help after all. As he enters, he sees (to no one's surprise) the storeroom door's open. He rushes in and sees Zeek tinkering with STRIPE. Zeek's impressed with Pat's handiwork, and has all sorts of ideas to upgrade the giant robot. Pat protests, but Zeek hurries out to get his toolbox.

Rick goes out into the woods and sets out three large buckets of chicken near Grundy's footprints. He goes back to his car, and we see a huge shadowy figure approach the food.

Later that night, Beth prepares a romantic meal for her parents, complete with wine & candlelight. Clearly she's hoping to rekindle their romance and keep them from getting divorced. Cut to hours later, as she's sitting dejectedly at the table, all alone. Poor Beth!

Suddenly Beth hears Chuck's voice coming from her goggles. She rushes over, puts them on and excitedly greets her old friend. Unfortunately Chuck doesn't recognize her and instantly shuts down. She begs him not to leave her too, but he doesn't respond.

Meanwhile, Courtney's in her bedroom going through her yearbook. Just as she sees her nemesis Cindy Burman's photo, she hears a noise downstairs. She grabs her staff and goes down to investigate. She spots someone creeping through the kitchen, carrying the Green Lantern's lantern.

Courtney attacks the intruder, and there's a big setpiece battle inside the Dugan home. Courtney blasts the intruder with her staff, accidentally destroying half the kitchen. The intruder fires back with green energy from the Lantern. Courtney finally asks the intruder is, and she replies she's Green Lantern's daughter.

Pat, Barb & Mike hear the commotion and rush downstairs. Pat looks around at the destruction and asks what the hell's going on. Courtney says it was a misunderstanding.

Cut to Cindy sashaying through the high school after hours. She opens the secret door leading down to the Injustice Society's subterranean lair. She takes out photos of Artemis Crock, Isaac Bowin and Cameron Mahkent and lays them out on the table. She then pulls out a photo of Mike and sets it down too. She holds the Eclipso diamond to her eye and a voice from within it says it's ready to serve. Cindy tells it, "Let's go recruiting."

Thoughts: 
• As with virtually every episode of Stargirl, this one starts with a flashback. Lots to unpack in this prologue...

First of all, according to the onscreen caption, this flashback takes place "Decades Ago."

I assume they deliberately worded it vaguely to keep from establishing a specific date. Based on the cars and clothing though, it's clearly set in the 1950s.

They do a pretty good job getting the details right— with a couple obvious exceptions. First up is that Schwinn Sting-Ray bike at the left of the screen. Yeah, bikes didn't look like that in the 1950s. Sting-Rays were invented in 1963, but didn't become super popular until the 1970s.

The doll Rebecca steals has a suspiciously late 1960s hairstyle and outfit as well. Whoops!

The episode spends a surprising amount of time setting up Rebecca, only to summarily kill her off. That makes me wonder if maybe she'll be back at some point later in the season. Otherwise, why devote so much of the runtime to her?

On the other hand, the show did the exact same thing with Joey Zarick in Season 1's Icicle, only to knock him off as well. So maybe she's not coming back after all.

I loved the subtle bit of CGI the producers used to make Bruce suddenly appear behind Rebecca. It made an already creepy kid even more unsettling. Kudos!

By the way, according to the Official Arrowverse Wiki, Bruce's last name is Gordon. In the comics, Bruce Gordon was the original host of Eclipso. 

It's a long story, but Gordon was a scientist who went to the jungle to observe a solar eclipse. While there he was attacked by a tribal sorcerer, who stabbed him with a black diamond and threw him off a cliff (!). Gordon somehow survived, and afterward would turn into Eclipso whenever an eclipse occurred. Looks like the writers did their homework!

When Bruce manifests Eclipso, his eyes glow red (of course) and the right two thirds of his face darken, as if they're... well, eclipsed. 

This is in line with the comic version of Eclipso, who's face is similarly shaded.

• Based on the mailbox seen here, Rebecca was apparently the daughter of Charles McNider, aka Dr. Mid-Nite. As a further clue, at one point Rebecca's mom tells her, "Well your dad's out on call, so you're stuck with me," implying that he's off on Justice Society business.

If Beth ever manages to repair her goggles and get the "Chuck" AI (which is basically a copy of Dr. Mid-Nite's consciousness), he's probably gonna want revenge on Eclipso for killing his daughter "years ago."

• In the comics, Eclipso's soul was trapped inside a black diamond called "The Heart Of Darkness." In early issues he had to possess someone in order to act, but in later ones he was an independent "vengeance demon" that used the diamond to control others.

Based on what little we've seen of him so far in Stargirl, it looks like they're going with the early possession route. Although that could very well change at any time.

At the end of the Season 1 finale, we saw Cindy Burman rooting through William Zarick's (aka The Wizard) stuff, till she found Eclipso's black diamond. So how did Zarick get it? Was he possessed by Eclipso at some point in the past? Or did he find the jewel and use it to manipulate others? Hopefully we'll get some answers later in the season.

• Since this scene takes place right before the last day of school, that means it's probably sometime in June. I'm betting Rick, Yolanda and Beth must be absolutely sweltering in those heavy costumes (complete with capes)! No wonder they wanna call it a night! Naturally Courtney wants to keep going, because she's wearing what amounts to a swimsuit and is probably perfectly comfortable.

• At one point grills Dugan about old ISA villains, hoping to find one the new JSA can deal with:

Courtney: "Per Degaton?"
Dugan: "Uh... the Flash banished him to an alternate timeline."
Courtney: "Whatever... that means. Uh, okay, um... Blackbriar Thorn."
Dugan: "Uh, Green Lantern destroyed him in '88."
Courtney: "Uh... Baron Blitzkrieg?"

As you might expect by now, the villains Courtney name drops are all from the comics. 

Per Degaton was a lab assistant for the Time Trust, a group of scientists studying time travel in the 1940s. He eventually killed Time Trust member Doctor Zee, and stole his time machine to try and change history for his own benefit. He frequently worked with fellow villain Vandal Savage, and often clashed with the Justice Society and the All-Star Squadron.

Degaton has actually shown up in the Arrowverse, as he appeared in Season 1 of Legends Of Tomorrow. In the episode Progeny, the Legends encountered Degaton as a child, and had to decide whether to kill him then or let him grow up to murder millions of innocents.

I wonder... Dugan says the Flash banished Degaton to an alternate dimension. What if he ended up on Earth Prime, and is the same version the Legends had to deal with?

Blackbriar Thorne was a High Priest of the Druids Of Cymru thousands of years ago. When his tribe was massacred by Roman forces, Thorne escaped by hiding in the forest and transforming himself into wood. 

Millenia later, Thorn's body was unearthed by an archeologist. The Druid then woke and joined the Injustice Society, where he uses his magic against the JSA.

— Baron Blitzkrieg was a Nazi officer who was blinded and disfigured by a prisoner in a concentration camp. Doctors were able to somehow restore his sight, but not his face. They performed further experiments on him, giving him super strength, invulnerability, optical blasts and the ability to fly. Blitzkrieg also worked with Vandal Savage and battled the All-Star Squadron.

Nice Continuity: Mike still has the paper route Pat got him back in Season 1. Dugan threatened to get him a route in Icicle, and then in Shiv Part One we saw him delivering papers for the first time.

Blue Valley must have an unusually large population of seniors who still subscribe to the physical newspaper.

• At one point we get a closeup shot of the paper Mike's peddling. Again, lots to unpack in this three second scene.

Wow, look at that front page headline about the Taco Whiz being vandalized! Riveting stuff! Someone's definitely winning a Pulitzer for that story!

I kid, as that's pretty much what the headlines look like in my hometown as well.

Also, this headline ties neatly into the next scene, as it's clear Solomon Grundy is alive and well and lurking around Blue Valley, as he's clearly the one who broke into the Taco Whiz.

Also of interest is the secondary headline stating "A New Way Forward For The American Dream." According to the story, "The Organization Works To Find A New Path After The Passing Of Its Visionary Founder."

If you'll recall, last season The American Dream was the brainchild of Jordan Mahkent, aka Icicle of the ISA. He set up the foundation to ostensibly revitalize Blue Valley, creating jobs and making it a great place to live again. 

Unfortunately it was all just a front for his nefarious plan to dominate the country and run it the way he (and the ISA) saw fit.

Now that Jordan's dead, I don't quite understand how the foundation's still open. Who's running it now? Who's paying the bills? Where's their money coming from? Is the original mission statement still in effect? 

These are all great questions, that of course are never addressed here. Maybe in a later episode?

Lastly, there's one more front page story that reads, "Blue Valley Police Searching For Man In Home Shooting." Hmm. Is that something related to the ISA? I don't remember anyone getting shot last season, so maybe it's just a random story. 

• Rick discovers Taco Whiz wrappers in the woods surrounding his house, as well as a massive footprint. From this he realizes Grundy's still at large and is the one robbing fast foot places to survive. 

Get used to footprints and other circumstantial evidence like this that only hint or suggest Grundy's presence. I have a feeling we won't actually see him again till the season finale. Realistic CGI creatures ain't cheap!

Speaking of money— Once Rick realizes Grundy's hiding in the woods, he starts bringing him several buckets of chicken every night. So where's he getting the money for that? A bucket of KFC is around fifteen bucks. How's a teen like Rick— who doesn't have an actual job— afford to blow $45 a day on chicken?

• Feeling guilty after killing Brainwave die last season, Yolanda goes to church on the way to school. She enters a confessional booth but just sits in silence. A few seconds later a priest enters the next booth and asks, "Do you want to talk today, my child?"

Woah, wait a minute... Not a Catholic here, but I was under the impression the confessional was supposed to be anonymous. So how's the priest know Yolanda's in there? Can he see her?

I guess maybe she's been stopping by every morning at the same time for weeks, and after a while the priest knows her schedule and expects her.

As she's leaving the church, Yolanda begins having visions of Brainwave's death, and freaks the hell out.

So what's happening here? Is she simply suffering from PSTD after killing Brainwave? Or is there something more sinister going on here? Brainwave was a powerful telepath with numerous psychic abilities. What if he used his powers to implant his consciousness into Yolanda's head right before he perished? Maybe these visions are Brainwave's mind beginning to assert itself.

I'm betting we're gonna get a Dark Yolanda storyline, in which she's taken over completely by the remnants of Brainwave.

One last thing about Yolanda and what she did. For years now I've been pointing out that murder doesn't seem to be a crime in the Arrowverse. That's certainly the case here. Yolanda straight up murdered Brainwave last season— not in self defense and not to protect the innocent, but in pure, unadulterated revenge. And of course she faces absolutely ZERO legal consequences for her actions.

• As Yolanda and Courtney walk to school, they pass a movie theater (remember those?) that's currently playing The Adventures Of Mark Merlin.

As with ALL the films shown at this theater, this one's based on a very obscure DC Comics character.

In the comics, Mark Merlin was sort of a "supernatural detective," and the nephew of famous stage magician The Mighty Merlin. After solving his uncle's murder, he inherited his mansion, magical equipment and even his assistant Elsa. He used his uncle's "Magic Eye" device to cast illusions, as he and Elsa battled the supernatural foes.

• Dugan calls his old pal Zeek (that's the way it's spelled on his hat) and asks him to watch the garage for him while he's on vacation.

I smell some cheap plot trickery here. Dugan's business isn't a bustling gas station, it's a garage that repairs classic cars. He could have easily closed it down for two weeks. The only reason he asks Zeek to mind the store is so he can start snooping around and discover STRIPE for comedic effect.

By the way, Zeek's no stranger to the show, as he first appeared in Season 1's Wildcat, and again in Hourman And Dr. Mid-Nite.

• Looks like Blue Valley High has a new principal already. Principal Sherman here replaced Anaya Bowin, aka the Fiddler, another member of the ISA. She was killed last season by Tigress. She was also the mother of Isaac Bowin, one of Courtney's classmates.

• As we saw in the Season 1 finale, Sylvester Pemberton, aka Starman, is seemingly alive and well again (after having been killed by Icicle in Pilot). Or at least someone or something that looks like Sylvester. 

As he sits outside a diner in Nevada, we see Sylvester pause for a moment, then check himself out in the rearview mirror. Sylvester seems to be pretty self-possessed, so it's entirely possible he's just making sure his hair's in place and there's no further meaning to this action.

Or it could be he's a villain with some sort of shapeshifting or illusion-casting ability, and he glanced in the mirror to make sure he still looked like Sylvester. Stay tuned to find out if I'm right or reading WAY too much into nothing.

• Inside the diner, Sylvester's greeted by a waitress named Maggie. He tells her he's looking for her ex-husband— aka Stripesy, aka Pat Dugan.

So unless Dugan's been married more than twice, this means that Maggie has to be Mike's mom!

• Courtney sees Cameron Mahkent staring at the Blue Valley Tires sign and asks what he's doing. He says, "I hought it could use a makeover— for my Dad."

ACKKK! I love this mural— especially it's retro advertising look and the way the Stargirl Art Department made it look like it's been there for fifty years. I hate to see 'em cover it up. Especially since, based on his previous artwork, Cameron's probably going to replace it with sappy paintings of flowers. Feh!

• In the Season 1 finale, I wondered what was gonna happen to the kids of the defeated and dead members of the ISA. I figured Sportsmaster & Tigress probably got away and were still at large. Looks like I was wrong about that, as this week their daughter Artemis confirms they're both in prison. So who's taking care of her? I'm assuming she's staying with relatives, as it seems unlikely the authorities would let a minor live on her own.

The Fiddler was killed, leaving her son Isaac Bowin an orphan. He must be living with local relatives as well, since he's still going to Blue Valley High.

And after the death of Icicle, I predicted that his son Cameron Mahkent would be raised by his evil grandparents. I got that one right, as this week we see that's exactly what's happening.

So do Cameron's grandparents Sofus & Lily know Courtney's secret identity? Or that her brother killed their son Jordan? I'm gonna bet no. They weren't present for the JSA's battle with the ISA. Plus if they did know, it's unlikely they'd let their grandson fraternize with Courtney. Heck, they'd probably try killing her themselves!

So what was up with Lily's comment that Courtney's a "wicked girl?" Is it because she spurned Cameron's advances when he came to dinner last season?

• To no one's surprise, Zeek breaks into Dugan's backroom and finds STRIPE.

I loved the way Zeek just took over STRIPE, and came up with plans for all sorts of upgrades— whether Dugan wanted them or not!

I love the way Zeek just takes over STRIPE, and comes up with plans for all sorts of upgrades-- as Dugan seems powerless to stop him:

Zeek: "Dugan! I knew you were building something. A robot!"
Dugan: "Yeah..."
Zeek: "Don't tell me what it's for. I don't need to know. Sometimes, a man just needs himself a robot."
Dugan: "The thing is..."
Zeek: "You know, I built a flamethrower out of a propane tank and a BB gun. I bet you could fit one right in the palm of that there robot's hand."
Dugan: "What? A flamethrower?"
Zeek: "Yes, sir. To start."
Dugan: "Okay, well, the thing is, Zeek, this is a private project..."
Zeek: (not even listening) "Yeah. Right."
Dugan: "It's kind of a hobby that I'm..."
Zeek: "Mm-hmm. Okay."
Dugan: "...kind of keeping to myself..."
Zeek: (talking over Dugan) "Right. Great."
Dugan: "...that I really..."
Zeek: "I will go get my tools!"
Dugan: "...rather other people didn't know about it."
Zeek: "Lovin' this partnership!"

Zeek seems like a lot more fun this season, and I'm looking forward to seeing more of him this year. He and Dugan make a good comedic team.

• Poor Beth! She knocks herself out cooking a romantic dinner for her parents, desperately hoping to rekindle their romance and stop them from getting divorced— only to be stood up by both of the inconsiderate clods.

As sad as it is, I love this particular scene. It's filmed as a time-lapse, starting with an excitted Beth standing on one side of the room as she puts the finishing touch on the meal, and ending with her on the other side,  dejectedly nibbling on a piece of bread.

I'm not 100% sure, but I don't think there was any CGI involved here. It looks like they just slowly panned the camera around the dining room, giving actress Anjelika Washington time to walk out of the dining room, then sprint around the set and re-enter it on the other side and sit at the table— all in one unbroken shot. I'm assuming a stagehand probably swapped out the tall candle on the table for a spent one as well, to help complete the illusion.

• At one point Courtney looks through more old ISA files, and glances at a photo of the Thinker.

Note that this is now the THIRD live action version we've gotten of this D-list character. The first Thinker was the Big Bad in Season 4 of The Flash, and we just got another one in the recent The Suicide Squad movie. That's a lot of versions for such a lame character!

• Courtney hears a noise downstairs and discovers an intruder stealing Green Lantern's lantern. We then get an impressive setpiece battle between her and the Intruder.

Fight scenes have been few and far between for the past year, thanks to The CW's pandemic safety protocols. The Flash has replaced fight scenes with the Care Bare Stare, as Barry Allen now loves his opponents to death. Legends Of Tomorrow, which was once filled with impressive fight choreography, has given up on such scenes altogether. So it was nice to finally see any kind of fight scene in an Arrowverse show!

• As the Intruder carries Green Lantern's lantern past the camera, we see a series of energy particles emanating from it.

Those particles are honest-to-goodness Kirby Krackle!

Legendary comic artist Jack Kirby was famous for filling his panels with hundreds and hundreds of dots, meant to indicate roiling clouds of intense energy. Over time, fans dubbed this effect Kirby Krackle. I can't believe the show finally gave us the Krackle in live action! Awesome!

Not A Nitpick, Just An Observation: At the end of the episode, Cindy Burman enters the ISA's underground HQ, and glances at the team portrait on the wall. From left is the Wizard, Tigress, a barely visible Shade, Sportsmaster, Icicle, Brainwave, the Gambler, the Fiddler and Grundy behind them all. Note that four of the members— Wizard, Icicle, Brainwave & Fiddler— are now dead. Dragon King, though not pictured, is presumed dead as well. The rest are missing or incarcerated.

• Cindy begins leafing through photos of possible recruits for a new ISA of her own. First up is Artemis Crock, daughter of Sportsmaster and Tigress. Artemis seems like she's more interested in playing sports than becoming a supervillain. That might change though when Cindy tells her that Courtney and her friends helped put her parents behind bars. 

Next up is Isaac Bowin, son of the Fiddler. He'd definitely be join up, as he's a psychotic little sh*t who tried to kill a classmate with a freakin' tuba last season!

Then there's Cameron Mahkent, son of Icicle. Last season we saw that Cameron either has or is developing powers identical to his father's. He seems like a sensitive and well-adjusted kid though, and not out for revenge. Again, Cindy could very well change his mind.

Lastly— and ominously— Cindy gazes at a photo of Mike!

So why Mike? Why would Cindy ever think she could turn him to the Dark Side? Welp, back in Icicle, Courtney "borrowed" a bunch of equipment from the JSA's old HQ, and passed it out to her friends. Among the items she took was the magic ink pen housing the genie-like Thunderbolt entity.

I predict that at some point Mike's gonna find the pen, become the Thunderbolt's new master and demand to become a member of the new JSA. But something will happen to give control of Thunderbolt to his friend Jakeem, which would align with the comics. 

I'm betting this will send Mike into a spiral of anger and resentment, and make him vulnerable to Cindy's recruitment drive— especially if she's got the Eclipso diamond to help manipulate his emotions. Again, stay tuned to see if I'm right.

Even if this is where the writers are going though, I don't see any possible way Cindy could know about it. So once again, I'm not sure why she thinks she'll be able to add him to her little roster.

The Pumpkining

It has begun...

Saw this display at my local grocery this week. It's like some kind of horror movie— one by one, every product in the store suddenly becomes pumpkin flavored. They could call it The Pumpkining.

Sunday, August 22, 2021

The Flash, Season 7, Episode 18: Heart Of The Matter, Part 2

This week on The Flash, it's the big Season 7 finale! And not a moment too soon! 

Man, what an absolute sh*tshow this season turned out to be. I can confidently say this was hands down the worst one yet. It's as if the producers deliberately made the worst possible decision at every single turn.

So what went wrong? In a spectacular display of ass-covering, the producers naturally blamed Covid for the less than perfect season. While I'm sure the pandemic didn't do them any favors, that excuse only goes so far. Quarantine restrictions definitely threw a wrench into filming, causing them to have to scale back plans for epic sequences and cut others altogether. But the pandemic shouldn't have affected the writing itself! There's no reason for subpar scripts when the creators were sitting at home with nothing to do but write!

Let's look at some of the MANY ways Season 7 crapped the proverbial bed. First off, it was saddled with the end of the miserable Mirrorverse Saga, after the pandemic forced production to shut down last year. So we got a warmed over, subpar conclusion that was hampered by Covid restrictions and just plain poor writing. This wrap-up was muddled, confusing and downright dull. It was also the beginning of the detestable "Care Bare Stare" malarkey (in which Barry defeats his foes with the Power Of Love) that plagued nearly every episode this season. Feh!

We then segued into the Four Forces storyline, which was equally nonsensical and poorly executed. It should have been epic, as Team Flash battled four powerful and unstoppable gods. Instead we got a quartet of grown-ass adults who literally 
(not metaphorically!) thought of Barry & Iris as their parents! It was odd, off-putting and beyond strange. Worst of all, there were no true villains in the arc, as everyone was just "misunderstood" until they inexplicably and abruptly changed sides (through the Power Of Love, of course!).

Then we were subjected to a series of one shots that absolutely no one asked for, spotlighting the various side characters. Each of these episodes were forgettable and utterly pointless.

If that wasn't enough, we also got a truly baffling "Frost Goes On Trial For Her Crimes" arc that featured the most preposterously unrealistic courtroom theatrics possible. And don't forget Frost's truly repulsive new love interest, who can't seem to resist losing his shirt and showing off his impressive abs in every appearance. 

And don't get me started on the insulting and disrespectful way the producers wrote Ralph out of the show. 

Then to top it all off, Season 7 also gave us the exits of not one, but TWO major characters, as Cisco and Nash Wells left the show. The departures of Carlos Valdez and Tom Cavanagh dealt the series a mortal blow, and I'm honestly not sure it'll ever fully recover.

Then in the final handful of episodes, the writers thought it'd be a good idea to rehash the "Barry & Iris' Future Kid Time Travels To The Past And Pays Them A Visit" storyline, which we already got in Season 5. They changed it up this time though by giving us not one, but TWO future kids! How innovative!

Add that all together and it's easy to see why this season wasn't the show at its best. 

The producers had the perfect chance to redeem Season 7 (and themselves as well) with the Godspeed arc. They'd been building up to it off & on for two full years, so needless to say expectations were high. It could have been the most legendary and spectacular plotline in the show's entire history.

Unfortunately that didn't happen, as it was a complete and utter bust. 

Nothing about the Godspeed arc made the least bit of sense, as everything about it was vague, murky and undefined. Godspeed's one of the most popular villains in the comics, but he fell completely flat here on the show. I still have no idea what he wanted or why he came to the past— other than to obtain "organic speed," whatever the hell that means. That's not much of a motivation.

Instead of a terrifying adversary to rival or surpass the Reverse-Flash, we got a cackling villain with an army of clones who looked like Power Rangers rejects, who inexplicably sounded like 1990s era modems. What the hell?

Lastly, this episode felt a lot like a SERIES finale, rather than simply a season one. Was there an actual doubt that the show might not return?

Anyway, enough setup. Let's get busy tearing this episode a new asshole!

SPOILERS!

The Plot:
At STAR Labs, Nora worries about her injured brother Bart. Caitlin assures her he'll eventually be OK. Nora says it feels like everything's falling apart (We viewers know how she feels!).

Out on the street, the two Godspeed factions battle one another. A couple of them jump on top of Joe & Kristen's car and start blasting one another. Joe & Kristen leap out of the car in the nick of time.

Elsewhere, Barry's entered the mind of the amnesiac August Heart (who's the Prime Godspeed), in an effort to figure out what he wants. Inside his mind, Heart's in full Godspeed mode, cackling and overacting like a Power Rangers villain. He begins monologuing as he infodumps his confusing backstory— it seems he was once a physicist who dreamed of moving faster than light for some reason. To that end he developed a velocity formula to become a speedster.

Unfortunately his imitation speed was inferior to the real thing (?). This caused him to become jealous of Bart, who he says is unworthy of his "organic" speed, and explains why he became Heart's Adversary.

Heart then demands that Barry somehow give him organic speed, or his clones will continue their attacks and Central City will burn. Barry refuses, and Heart screams in rage.

Barry wakes up in STAR Labs, next to Heart— who still can't remember anything. Heart asks what his "real" self said, and everyone glances nervously at one another. Cecile tells Heart she can tell he's a "good guy," and his future isn't set.

Team Flash meets in the Med Bay, and Nora says they need to give Heart what he wants in order to save the city. Barry disagrees, as they'd have to be crazy to give superspeed to an unstable villain. He says they need to stop Heart here in the present, to prevent him from becoming Godspeed again in the future.

Elsewhere, Allegra's at the Team Citizen office, still moping about Ultraviolet. Chester enters, and Allegra says she's not in the mood to act as a human battery for his gadgets. He gives her a Patented The CW Pep Talk®, saying all he cares about is her. He reminds her that she's saved Team Flash numerous times, and she isn't responsible for Ultraviolet's own fatal decision. Somehow this snaps her out of her funk and they hug.

Back at STAR, Barry says not even Godspeed can outrun a Force Of Nature. Right on cue, Speed Force Nora appears. She says the other three Forces are busy keeping the Universe in balance, but she's there to give them all a boost. She gestures, and they're all charged with extra Speed Force energy— including Iris (who was once briefly a speedster)!!! Bart's charged as well, and the extra jolt of speed wakes him from his coma.

Bart's shocked but pleased when he sees his "Uncle Jay" alive and well (since he was killed by Godspeed at some point in the future). Jay's taken aback by the "Uncle" nickname at first, but decides he likes it after realizing he'll eventually become an important figure in Bart's life.

Meanwhile, the Godspeeds continue rampaging through the city. Joe and Kristen do their best to get the public to safety before they become collateral damage. Suddenly Joe's grabbed by one of the Godspeeds, who preps to kill him with his vibrating hand. Kristen yells for Joe to watch out, then crackles with energy as she speeds him away. Once they're both safe, she collapses.

Just then Barry and the other speedsters arrive, and he tells them to wear down the Godspeeds & force them to exhaust their powers. Apparently everyone's been practicing, because they all have brand spanking new abilities. Bart throws Speed Force shuriken at a Godspeed, while Nora uses her Speed Force lasso on another. Speed Force Nora simply snaps her fingers and drains the energy from a couple of other clones. Jay charges his metal helmet with Speed Force energy and hurls it at several Godspeeds. It knocks them out as it bounces back and forth between each one before returning to him. Barry & Iris stand back to back as they fight even more Godspeeds with Speed Force lightning and whirlwinds.

Elsewhere, Frost & Mecha-Vibe are fighting another group of Godspeeds. Mecha-Vibe tells Frost to hold her breath, and activates a stasis field around them. The Godspeeds try to penetrate it without success, and eventually tire and zoom off.

Team Flash manages to defeat all the Godspeeds, but seconds later they begin recovering. Barry says they're siphoning energy off of Speed Force Nora, and tells her she has to leave. She reluctantly zips away. The Godspeeds begin closing in, surrounding the speedsters.

Suddenly Allegra teleports in with Chester's SEE (Solar Encryption Engine) device— which neutralizes artificial speed forces. She charges it with her powers, and it instantly incapacitates the Godspeeds before burning out. Caitlin calls the team to warn them that even MORE Godspeeds are on their way.

Everyone returns to STAR to discuss the situation. Chester says it'll take weeks to rebuild his SEE, so they won't be able to use it again. Once again Nora suggests giving Heart the speed he wants, but Barry still refuses.

Bart, Nora and Jay then repair the SEE at superspeed, to Chester's astonishment. Barry enters, and says after careful consideration he's decided to give Heart what he wants— organic speed. Seems like an idiotic idea to me, but what do I know.

Cut to the Lab, where Jay fastens a harness onto Heart. He tells him a boost from Barry should reactivate his own dormant speed. As Bart watches, he tells Nora they're creating his future nemesis in this moment, and hopes everything works out.

Barry feeds a small amount of speed into Heart, powering him up. He INSTANTLY turns evil, surrounds himself with Speed Force lightning and flies up through the ceiling. Barry tells Nora and Bart not to worry, as he has a plan.

Heart stands on the roof and absorbs all the Godspeed clones back into his body. Barry appears, and Heart says he's going to kill him. Barry says no one's dying today, and tells Heart he's going to Iron Heights. Heart laughs and speeds off. Barry chases after him.

Elsewhere, Speed Force Nora and Iris are in the Four Forces' house (which looks a lot like Joe's home). Speed Force Nora tells Iris she'll be her anchor while she concentrates, and begins conjuring Speed Force energy.

Back in Central City, Barry can't catch up to Heart. Suddenly he appears and knocks Barry down, telling him "there can be only one" god of speed. He then begins blasting Barry, or maybe he's stealing his speed, I dunno.

Bart somehow sees this and starts to go help his Dad. Jay stops him, saying Barry has a plan and told everyone else to stay put. Bart reluctantly stays obeys.

Heart continues blasting Barry. Just when all hope looks lost, suddenly Eobard Thawne, aka the Reverse Flash, appears. He punches Heart and sends him flying. He then reaches down and actually helps Barry up. Thawne says he's agreed to help him defeat Heart, in exchange for restoring him.

Unfortunately Heart recovers, once again blathering that they can't kill a god. He then calls down a bolt of Speed Force lightning and forms it into a lightsaber, er, I mean an energy sword! Barry & Thawne are stunned by this, but amazingly they figure out how to do the same. The three then have an old fashioned lightsaber battle! Yeah. That really happens!.

The three battle for a while, and Barry's forced to the ground. Thawne then runs his sword through Heart's chest, which ends the fight but somehow doesn't kill him.

Thawne tells Barry he kept his part of the bargain, and now it's just the two of them. Barry orders Thawne to walk away while he still can. Naturally Thawne attacks and throws a superspeed punch at him. We then see that Barry is now even faster than Thawne, as he watches Thawne's seemingly slow motion punch crawl past his face. He then throws Thawne across the street.

Thawne's stunned that Barry's now faster than him (thanks to another boost from Speed Force Nora, no doubt). He goes into full comic book villain mode and roars that Barry hasn't seen the last of him, and then speeds off. For no good reason, Barry lets him go.

Back at STAR, the characters do their best to answer the audience's many questions. Iris says Speed Force Nora somehow tapped into the Negative Speed Force to reconstitute Thawne and bring him back. Sure, why not. Barry explains that Heart couldn't steal speed from the Negative Speed Force, which is why Thawne was able to defeat him. The team worries that Heart might reveal Barry's secret identity (that everyone in Central City already knows), but he says Speed Force Nora wiped that info from the evil speedster's mind (!).

As the others file out of the room, Barry asks Iris to stay. He tells her she never got the wedding she deserved (as their original one was interrupted by other-dimensional Nazis from Earth-X), so he re-proposes and asks her to re-marry him. She says yes.

Cut to the West home, where Kristen comes to see Joe. She says she just tested positive for the meta-gene. Apparently she has the ability to temporarily mimic the powers of any meta near her— which explains how she survived the destruction of her military unit (she was near Creyke, who's indestructible) and why she was able to speed Joe away from the Godspeeds.

She says she regrets her Draconian attitude toward metas, which she completely forgot about a few episodes back but has now dredged up again. She apologizes for all the trouble she caused. He says he always knew she was a "good cop" deep down. She says she's taking an indefinite leave from CCPD, but strangely enough doesn't give him his old job back. I guess they're saving that for Season 8.

Later at the West house, everyone gathers for Barry & Iris' renewal of their vows. Cisco presides over the ceremony, and Bart shows he has quite a voice on him as he sings an interminably long ballad. Barry & Iris recite new vows, and then kiss. As they do so, Barry pulls them both into Flashtime to make the moment last "forever."

Thoughts: 
• For the past couple weeks now I've been kvetching about how the opening credits keep listing special guest stars and spoiling their cameos on the show. It happened with both John Wesley Shipp as Jay Garrick and Carlos Valdes as Cisco.

Amazingly, this week they didn't mention Tom Cavanagh, making his unexpected third act appearance as Thawne a true surprise! Well done, producers! I'm telling you guys, they're reading my blog and responding accordingly!

• Many of the scenes inside Godspeed's Mindscape were shot at Dutch Angles.

They used this trick on the Batman 1966 TV show, specifically in scenes set inside the various villains' lairs. The off-kilter angles are supposed to subconsciously imply something's not quite right, and make the audience uneasy.

• Man, that is one distracting vein in August Heart's forehead! He needs to get that thing checked out before it bursts!

• If nothing else, The Flash has perfected the art of the Soap Opera Pregnant Pause. It's when a character on a soap asks a sensitive or loaded question, and the other characters look uncomfortably at one another as they wait for the cut to commercial.

The Flash does it twice this week, to absolutely hilarious effect:

The first time happens after Barry comes out of Godspeed's Mindscape, and August Heart worriedly asks what his alter-ego said. Rather than answer the poor guy, everyone just awkwardly glances back and forth for an interminable amount of time.

The second time is when Bart asks Barry what they're gonna do next, and he tells everyone, "We end this Civil War. Once and for all." Everyone then beams or nods knowingly forever.

• At one point Chester visits Allegra at The Citizen office. The second she sees him she says, "Chuck, I'm done with pep talks, okay?"

WOW! Now THAT'S a meta comment! How many times have I mocked the writers for their incessant use of the Patented The CW Pep Talk©? Once again, it's like the writers are reading my blog.

• A couple weeks ago in P.O.W., Iris returned from a several-episode absence, explaining she'd become "unstuck in time," whatever the hell that meant. It sounded pretty serious, and seemed like something the audience should have actually got to see. Strangely enough it inexplicably happened off-camera or between episodes. 

Then last week she suddenly reappeared, seemingly none the worse for wear. Her explanation? Deon temporarily stabilized her so she could visit with her future kids.

And that's the last we ever hear about this unstuck business. There's absolutely ZERO mention of it this week, as Iris is seemingly back to normal.

So what the hell was that all about? I know the real world answer— they hastily came up with the unstuck thing to cover for Candice Patton, who decided to up and take several weeks off in the middle of the season. But what's the in-universe explanation? You can't just bring up something major like a character potentially fragmenting through time and then just drop it two episodes later with no explanation or acknowledgment!

• In the comics, Bart's codename is "Impulse." For reasons known only to The Flash writers, they don't ever come right out and call him that here on the show. Instead they hint and imply, having various characters describe Bart's "impulsiveness." They did this a maddening FOUR times last week in Heart Of The Matter, Part 1.

It happens again this week, but thankfully only once. When the Speed Force appears inside STAR Labs, Team Flash tells her that Bart's currently in a coma. She then says, "Oh, my impulsive boy."

• Credit Where It's Due 1: When Bart wakes from his coma and first sees Jay Garrick, he says, "Uncle Jay! You're... here." Clearly he was gonna say "alive," as Jay's dead in Bart's future. He manages to catch himself though and covers nicely. Well done to Jordan Fisher for a subtle bit of acting there!

This all brings up a good question: Just how old is Bart's "Uncle Jay" in the future? Actor John Wesley Shipp, who plays Jay, is currently 66. Bart is from 2049, which is 28 years from now. That means Jay would be well into his 80s when Bart was growing up, and probably in his 90s at the time of his death.

Not impossible, but it's probably unlikely Jay would still be a speedster at that age.

• There's something very... Power Rangers-y about this entire episode. 

I think it's the fact that the Godspeed clones are unfortunately and unintentionally reminiscent of Putty Patrollers— especially in the way they jumped and cavorted as they fought.

Another big part of it was Godspeed himself, who was WAY over the top as he spouted lines like, "At last! True speed for a true god!" and "Now you die, Flash! By my hand!"

Any second I expected him to throw his head back and cackle as he shrieked, "AHHHH! Make my Godspeeds GROW!"

• A couple weeks ago I noticed we never saw more than six Godspeed clones onscreen at the same time. That was due to the fact the producers could only afford to build six costumes.

Happily this week it looks like they used CGI trickery to multiply that number.

Credit Where It's Due 2: Now this is the REAL Team Flash! It was awesome to finally see an entire squad of speedsters (including Iris!) going after the Godspeeds. 

I'm pretty sure this is the first time that's ever happened on the show before. Sure, Barry's assembled teams to help him out in the past, but never one consisting solely of speedsters. Odd that it took seven seasons for it to happen.

• This week The Saga Of The Purple Jacket continues— and ends up taking a bizarre temporal twist!

Way back in Season 4's Run, Iris, Run, Iris was seen wearing a stylish purple leather jacket with quilted sleeves.

Then at one point a meta named "Bystander" accidentally transferred Barry's powers into Iris, temporarily turning her into a speedster. Cisco then modified her jacket into a superhero costume.

Apparently Iris gifted the jacket to Nora at some point in the future, as she wore the costume as well (with the addition of her "XS" symbol).

This week the Speed Force turns Iris into a speedster once more, and it appears she dug the purple jacket out of mothballs and wore it again.
.
Here's where it gets freaky though. Thanks to time travel shenanigans, they're both wearing the exact SAME piece of clothing! There are now TWO versions of the purple jacket— one of which is twenty eight years older than the other— existing in the same moment in time. Weird! They're lucky their jackets didn't cause some kind of rip in the space/time continuum.  

By the way, can I just say that Iris looks really good with her hair pulled back in a ponytail like that. She should wear this style more often!

• For no good reason, during the big setpiece battle with the Godspeed clones, everyone is suddenly able to manipulate the Speed Force and use it to form awesome new weapons. Why? Because the writers are apparently getting their ideas from a six year old who thought it'd be kewl.

Bart forms the Speed Force into energy-charged shuriken and flings them at his foes.

Nora uses a Speed Force lasso (which we technically saw last week, but still).

Jay charges his helmet with Speed Force energy and hurls it much like Captain America's shield, as it bounces back and forth between his enemies before flying back to him.

I think my favorite new Speed Force ability comes from, er, the Speed Force herself (itself?). She simply snaps her fingers and drains the Godspeeds of their Speed Force energy, rendering them all inert.

So... why the hell didn't she just do that to all of them? Why let the other speedsters individually risk their lives fighting the clones? Jesus Christ!

Sadly, Barry & Iris apparently lack imagination when it comes to conjuring up Speed Force weapons. Barry just hurls a boring old blast of lightning, while Iris doesn't use Speed Force energy at all— she just spins her hands fast enough to create a vortex of air that apparently knocks out the clones.

While the ability to control and shape the Speed Force into complex objects like this seemingly comes out of nowhere this week, there's actually a precedent for it. Back in Season 6's Death Of The Speed Force, we saw Wally shape the Speed Force into a construct that resembled a lotus blossom. 

So despite how it appears, this ain't exactly new. Now just HOW Barry & the others suddenly figured out how to do it in this episode is anyone's guess. It was implied that it took Wally months of meditation and practice to learn how to manipulate the Speed Force. Team Flash seemingly pulled the ability straight out of their asses this week at a moment's notice.

• A couple weeks back in Enemy At The Gates, I said this about Kristen:

The only way (Kristen & Joe) could still be alive is if Kristen is secretly a meta, and used teleportation or superspeed to whisk them both out of harm's way. I'm betting this is actually what happened, as the writers are probably shooting for irony here. Kristen hates metas with the white hot passion of a thousand exploding suns, and will discover that she's actually one of them! She'll then be faced with the unpleasant reality of becoming the very thing she hates.

Welp, turns out that's EXACTLY what happened! This week Kristen discovers she's a meta. One who can mimic the powers of other metas in her immediate vicinity. Which I guess makes her a META-meta.

There's just one problem with all this— Godspeed isn't a meta! When he's in his Mindscape monologuing to Barry, he says he always dreamed of moving faster than light, so he created a velocity formula that made him a speedster.

So Godspeed has no natural powers of his own, and isn't a meta. Since his clones are perfect copies of him, that should go for them as well. Meaning there shouldn't have been any abilities for Kristen to mimic. Whoops!

You know, there are times when I wonder if the writers actually understand their own scripts.

• For the second week in a row, Barry "grounds" his GROWN-ASS TWENTY-SOMETHING DAUGHTER AND SON, saying it's his job to protect them.

I get the sentiment here, but Jaysis. Thanks to time travel, his kids are just a few years younger than he is!

• In this episode we're treated to a flashback to Mecha-Vibe and Frost battling Godspeeds. For reasons known only to the producers, this flashback takes place "2 Minutes Earlier."

Do... do the show's editors not understand how to cross cut? You show Team Flash fighting, then you cut to Team Cisco, then back to Team Flash, lather, rinse, repeat. It ain't rocket science, guys. I seriously do not get flashing back to just two minutes ago.

• At one point Mecha-Vibe and Frost are surrounded by a gaggle of Godspeeds. Facing certain death, he tells Frost to hold her breath and generates a protective bubble around them. The Godspeeds try to get through but can't, and eventually get bored (I guess?), take their ball and go home.

I'm utterly baffled by this scene. So many questions here.

First of all, the fact that they have to hold their breath implies that the force shield doesn't let air through, so they'll suffocate inside it. But... look at the size of the bubble. There's easily enough oxygen in there to last two people fifteen or twenty minutes!

Secondly, as the camera pans around the force shield, Mecha-Vibe and Frost appear to be motionless inside it. I guess it placed them in stasis? If that's true, then it means time wasn't moving inside the bubble— they'd be in suspended animation and wouldn't need to breathe in the first place!

Mecha-Vibe goes out of his way to mention he set the force shield on a timer, since he'd be frozen in time and unable to deactivate it himself. But... how'd he know how long to set the timer? What if he set it for thirty seconds and the Godspeeds were still hanging around then? Lucky for them the Godspeeds left a split second before the bubble deactivated!

Lastly, once they're out of the bubble, a panting Frost scolds Mecha-Vibe and tells him to never do that again. She then walks off "comically" huffing and puffing. Thing is, they were inside the bubble for a grand total of twelve seconds. She couldn't hold her breath comfortably for that long without almost dying? Jesus Christ, what is she, a chain smoker?

• I've been saying it for a while now, but it's no less true this week— NOTHING about Godspeed, his clones or his entire storyline makes the least bit of sense. Especially the bit about Barry & Iris deciding to give organic speed to Heart in order to save the city. It's all utterly mystifying, no matter how many times I try to understand it.

At the beginning of the episode, Heart monologues to Barry and says he always dreamed of moving faster than light. We never find out any reason for this strange compulsion, as that would be too much like character development. 

Heart eventually created a serum that made him a speedster, but he still felt he wasn't fast enough. He fixated on Bart, and grew to resent his superior "organic" speed. Why he didn't feel the same about Nora, I have no idea. Maybe he has something against women, I dunno.

He then began trying to eliminate Bart, presumably so he'd then be the fastest speedster there is. Note that I'm just guessing here, as there's no explanation as to why Heart referred to Bart as "The Adversary."

Heart then used the Speed Treadmill inside the Flash Museum to time travel back to 2021. Why? I'm actually not sure, as his reasons for showing up in the past and attacking the city are never clearly spelled out I think it's so he could split himself into dozens of clones and ravage Central City, in order to force Barry to give him organic speed. Sure, why not.

Unfortunately for Heart, the act of creating his Godspeed clones caused him to lose his memory, rendering him an innocent and harmless schmo. At this point Team Flash has pretty much won, as Heart's no longer a threat unless he gets organic speed.

Even better, they could keep Neutered Heart here in the present, meaning his kids would never have to worry about him again in their future!

Which leaves us with the Godspeed clones. Heart may not be a problem, but they definitely are. Barry & the others fight wave after wave of clones without success, consitently using speed against speed— which of course doesn't work. 

Thing is, at this point in the series there are numerous ways they could have defeated them. We saw in this very episode that Speed Force Nora can simply snap her fingers and rob them all of their speed. She could probably do that permanently. Of course no one ever thinks to try that. 

They could have contacted their pals over on Legends Of Tomorrow and borrowed one of their Time Couriers. They could have then opened a doorway to a distant planet and tossed the Godspeeds through it. Or thrown them into outer space. Or into the Sun! They could have even called Superman or Supergirl and had one or both of them help deal with the clones.

There're just too many good ways to eliminate their threat, but naturally they don't try any of them.

Instead, Barry & Iris decide to give Heart the organic speed he wants— even though doing so is practically guaranteed to turn him back into Godspeed. I seriously don't get it.

When Bart hears his parents are giving Heart the organic speed he desires, his reaction is truly puzzling. His face breaks out in a smug-ass grin, as he seems pleased and relieved. But WHY? Barry is literally about to re-create Bart's nemesis— the person who will someday kill his Uncle Jay. And for some reason he's happy about it.

And sure enough, the SECOND Heart receives organic speed, he instantly recovers his memories and becomes Godspeed again. Sigh... Who signed off on this storyline? I demand to know who's responsible.

• Supervillain Landing!

• Back in P.O.W. the big Godspeed Civil War was introduced. Basically it pitted a group of clones who were loyal to their "Master" against another faction that didn't want to "die" when they were reabsorbed by Godspeed.

This plotline seemed pretty important, as it received a huge amount of screentime over the past three episodes. It all felt like it was building up to an incredible and epic conclusion.

Annnnnnd then in the third act of this episode August Heart becomes Godspeed again, and nonchalantly absorbs BOTH factions of clones back into his body. Welp, I guess that's that then! So much for the big Civil War plot!

It's like the writers couldn't think of a good way to properly end this storyline, so they summarily abandoned it! Seriously, what the hell is even happening on this show anymore?

• For no good reason, once Heart becomes Godspeed again and begins ranting hysterically, he'll occasionally slip into Punjabi. Oddly enough whenever he does this, Barry somehow understands what he's saying! Did Barry just speed-learn a new language?

• The final battle between Barry & Godspeed takes place in front of a large geodesic dome.

The part of the dome is played by Vancouver Science World, located in beautiful downtown Vancouver of course.

At one point during the battle, we can see Central City's Shark Stadium (played by Vancouver's BC Place) in the background.

A quick trip to Google Maps shows that Science World and BC Place are about a thousand feet apart, separated by a small bay. Interesting!

 When the Reverse-Flash rushes in to attack Godspeed, an astonished Chester watches from STAR Labs and says, "Wait, is that... Thawne?" Welp, Ches, based on the fact that you're staring at a readout that's literally labeled "REVERSE-FLASH," I'd say yet. Yes it is.

 The big jaw-dropping plot twist this week comes when Barry teams up with his old nemesis Eobard Thawne, to help take down Godspeed once and for all. GASP!

If you're like me though, instead of being stunned and delighted you were probably scratching your head in puzzlement, wondering how the hell Thawne is alive and well again.

We last saw Thawne (sort of) in Season 6's The Exorcism Of Nash Wells. As a result of the Crisis On Infinite Earths, Nash Wells became a "repository" of sorts for all the various Wellses that had existed in the Multiverse. For some reason this included Eobard Thawne too, even though he wasn't a Wells but just wore the face of one. Yeah, don't ask.

Anyway, Thawne ended up possessing the body of Nash and menacing Barry once again. At the end of the episode, Team Flash was able to expel Thawne from Nash's body. Thawne— now a mass of negative tachyons— shot through the roof of STAR Labs and dissipated harmlessly into the atmosphere, never to be seen again.

Until now.

So how's he alive and well in the third act of this episode? Simple— Speed Force Plot Magic. Barry persuaded the Speed Force to simply snap her fingers and reconstitute his deadliest nemesis, so the two of them could team up and defeat Godspeed. A villain that Barry himself just created, mind you. Feh.

 I'm going to assume the producers could only get Tom Cavanagh to come back for half a day, which severely limited his screen time. Hence we get numerous shots of Thawne vibrating his body so we can't get a good look at his face and see he's actually being played by a random stuntman.

• Welp, it's time to talk about the episode's most infamous, outrageous and downright ridiculous scene. When Barry & Thawne confront Godspeed, he suddenly raises his hand and magically conjures up... a Speed Force Lightsaber! A couple seconds later, the others do the same thing, and the three engage in a spectacular Speed Force Lightsaber battle.

You said it, Tom!

I'm honestly having trouble deciding if this was cool or monumentally stupid. Admittedly it looked amazing, and the six year old inside me thought it was totally awesome. The rational, thinking part of me though, not so much.

I can kind of understand Godspeed knowing how to create his own lightsaber, since he's from the future. Who knows what sort of things he's learned in the far-off year of 2049? But how do Barry & Thawne know how to do it? Clearly the thought's never occurred to either of them, since they've never done it before. Apparently they saw Godspeed do it, thought, "Well, THAT looks easy" and conjured up their own Speed Force Lightsabers. It's just that simple!

Jesus wept.

The bigger question here is "How The Hell Is Any Of This Even Possible?" In the comics, the lightning surrounding the Flash's body when he ran was just a by-product of accessing the Speed Force. Sort of like the contrails from a jet plane's engines. The TV show treated the lightning the same way for the first couple seasons.

Then sometime around Season 3 or 4 (I ain't got time to sift through 150 episodes), Barry learned to build up a huge charge of Speed Force lightning and then hurl a bolt of it at his adversaries— like a spandex-clad Zeus.

Unfortunately it's been escalating ever since, as each season he's come up with some new way to use his lightning as an offensive weapon. Which culminates in this week's jaw-dropping episode, in which the characters are fashioning shuriken, lassoes and fraking LIGHTSABERS out of Speed Force Lightning.

• Credit Where It's Due 3: As stupid as the Lightsaber Battle is, it really did look cool. Especially the fight choreography! I'm assuming they hired a trio of fencing experts, put 'em in masks and had them go at it. There's no way Grant Gustin & Tom Cavanagh were doing those smooth, fluid movements.

Also, it's clear that someone on the production team is a big fan of Star Wars. The scenes of Barry & Thawne fighting Godspeed were pretty much recreations of Qui-Gon & Obi-Wan battling Darth Maul in The Phantom Menace

Heck, at one point Godspeed even conjures up a second sword, much like Maul's double-bladed lightsaber!

Similarly, Thawne ends the battle by running his saber through Godspeed's gut...

Exactly the same way Kylo Ren killed his dad Han Solo in The Force Awakens. Oh, er, spoilers, I guess.

Credit Where It's Due 4: Once Godspeed's defeated, Thawne instantly and predictably turns on Barry and throws a superspeed punch at him. Thanks to the Four Forces, Barry's become exponentially faster than Thawne, and seemingly sees his punch happen in slow motion! I loved this scene, as it's an awesome and amazing milestone in the series.

That said... At the end of this scene, once Thawne realizes Barry's now faster than him, he angrily hisses that he'll return again to kill him some day and then zooms off. Astonishingly, Barry just watches him go.

What. The. Hell.

Barry literally just demonstrated he's now a hundred times faster than Thawne (at least). Why didn't he just zoom him into a cell in the STAR Labs Secret Super Jail and be done with it? He could have done it while Thawne was blinking.

Answer: Because the show needs a Big Bag for Season 8, and apparently Thawne's it.

• During the obligatory wrap up at STAR Labs, Barry says August Heart's currently locked up in Iron Heights. Jay points out that Heart knows Barry's secret identity, and asks what'll happen if he blabs. Barry says the Speed Force was able to wipe that fact from Heart's mind.

Woah, hold up! If the Speed Force can now selectively erase memories, why not just remove all the evil thoughts from Heart's mind and make him "nice" again? Hell, she could have simply defeated Godspeed that way, instead of resurrecting Thawne and making him a threat again.

This whole "erasing memories" things also brings up a thorny moral dilemma. A couple seasons ago Cisco invented the meta-cure, and said they should use it to neutralize all their foes. Barry took the ethical high road, saying it'd be wrong to rob metas of their powers without their consent.

But encouraging the Speed Force to erase memories is OK?

• Kristen pays Joe a visit, and confirms she's tested positive for the meta-gene. And of course this shocking revelation has caused her to INSTANTLY reverse her lifelong hatred toward the group she used to despise, because that's what real people do whenever they discover an inconvenient truth. Feh!

 A few more things about Kristen before I move on: She survived Creyke's bombing several years ago, and we now know that was due to her powers automatically kicking in. Do the writers really expect us to believe her abilities never once manifested themselves before or since that incident (until today)? If that's the case, she must lead a very uneventful life.

Kristen then apologizes to Joe for all the trouble she caused. Wait, what? Why Joe of all people? She didn't do anything to him that I can see. If anything, she should get down on her knees and beg FROST for forgiveness! She made her life a living hell and nearly caused her to spend the rest of her life in prison!

Lastly, Kristen tells Joe she's taking a leave of absence from CCPD. I was expecting her to give Joe his old job back, but oddly enough she didn't. Weird. I'll bet anything when Season 8 starts, Joe will suddenly be a police captain again, with no explanation.

• Not that I mind, but this is the third episode in a row now that hasn't featured Chillblaine. So why the hell did the writers spend so much time trying to sell the audience on him? Maybe they saw all the online backlash against the character and decided to cut their losses. We should be so lucky.

Actually I'm betting he'll return in Season 8. It's a pretty good bet, as what the hell else are they gonna do with Frost? She's already had a redemption arc, gained her own flesh & blood body and dodged a life sentence—there's nothing left for her but a love story. 

• As I pointed out in the intro, this episode felt far more like a series finale than just a season one. Especially with all the characters gathering together for the big wedding renewal ceremony at the end. It could have easily served as Team Flash's farewell.

I wonder... was there a legitimate concern that the show might not get renewed, so they wrote this episode as a finale, just in case? That's certainly how it looks!

• Last week I pointed out that I was VERY surprised to find out that Joe & Cecile aren't married. I thought they got hitched years ago! This week during Barry & Iris' renewal ceremony, Cecile drops a pretty MAJOR hint to Joe that it's high time he made an honest woman of her. Expect their wedding to either happen offscreen or at some point in Season 8.

• As part of the renewal festivities, Bart gifts his parents with a song, performing Josh Mutono's 1949 for them. It's an OK song and he has a surprisingly pleasant voice, but man, does it go on and on— for over two interminable minutes of screen time!

So why the new song? Why didn't they have him sing Running Home To You to them? Hasn't that become "their song" over the seasons?

• In the past we've seen that STAR Labs apparently has its own line of branded merch, including t-shirts, sweats, hoodies and even softball jerseys. Characters who end up in the Med Bay are often seen wearing this clothing.

Inexplicably it appears they have a supply of STAR Labs priest's stoles as well. Cisco's seen wearing one when he performs the renewal ceremony. Strange!

• At the end of the episode, Barry slips into Flashtime so his kiss with Iris will last "forever." Gosh, it's too bad he didn't remember he can do that when he was fighting Godspeed or Thawne.

Also, I don't think the current crop of writers understand how Flashtime works. Basically it allows Barry to move so fast that time seems to stop for the rest of the world. But to him it's as if he's moving at normal speed.

I get that it's supposed to be romantic and poetic and all that, but in reality all that's happening is Barry & Iris just kiss for a minute or so while no time at all passes for their guests.

So that's it for Season 7 of The Flash. It's been a very rough and uneven eighteen episodes, filled with misfires, gaffes and blunders— not to mention some of the worst writing in the entire series. I'm more than happy to close the book on this season, as it's not one I'll be revisiting anytime soon— if ever!
Related Posts with Thumbnails
 
Site Meter