Let's hop into this week's Arrowverse Recap!
NOTE: 'Batwoman' and 'Supergirl' were on break this week and will return next week
Black Lightning Season 3, Episode 7 - The Book of Resistance: Chapter Two
James Remar and Christine Adams star in CW's 'Black Lightning'
Photo Credit: The CW Network – YouTube
In Episode 7 of Season 3, Jefferson defuses a bomb at the edge of Freeland, only to find out from Chief Henderson that it was meant to be a distraction for the Resistance to smuggle metas out of the city. Grace is getting better at controlling her shifting abilities, but still fears that she and Anissa can't stay together with the stress of the occupation. Unable to risk getting Grace out of Freeland due to her powers being depleted by Painkiller's poison, Anissa tries to convince Jefferson to take Grace himself, despite Henderson and Rev. Holt's reservations about allying themselves with Black Lightning.
Meanwhile, Gambi asks Lynn to sneak in a device into The Pit to allow him to gain access. Together, the two of them explore the deeper parts of the facility, only to confirm Gambi's suspicions that Khalil has been brainwashed by the ASA. Elsewhere, Jennifer meets with Major Grey, who is acting as director in the wake of Agent Odell being shot, in hopes of gaining information on Dr. Jace's research.
Once again, this show is doing an excellent job, not just with Jefferson's character, but his interactions with the supporting cast. Jefferson and Henderson's conversation about the ASA bomb is so great because we want to cheer for Jefferson, but as Henderson points out, his sense of moral conviction has always prevented him from truly working as part of a team (maybe foreshadowing his role in 'Crisis, I'm just pointing that out).
Jefferson's interactions with Anissa are also so needed this week. I'm so glad we finally see Anissa being vulnerable again, granted, probably from the poison that is slowly killing her, but still. Again, even though the purpose of their reunion is for Black Lightning to help, both characters feel right in finally being able to reconcile despite their differences earlier in the season. I also liked Grace this episode, and it's probably the most interesting point I've seen her throughout Season 3. Not only is her relationship with Anissa shown as the most tender and mutual I've seen it in a while, but she also seems to trust Jefferson now as well, and that's a huge jump for her character.
Jennifer continues to be a lighter focus in the episode, but I find it interesting how sneaky she's starting to get. It seems like more of Odell's influence is coming through every week, the question is how she'll use those for or against the ASA, and if Major Grey will be a different dynamic then Odell. Then there's how Brandon fits into all of this and, while I'm not certainly not clamoring for him to be Jennifer's new love interest, he does bring a clear-headed sensibility that reminds me of Jefferson in some ways.
For as well characterized as I think this episode is, there are a few pretty ludicrous moments in the episodes that really threw me off. For example, when Black Lightning is chastising a soldier for killing one of the Markovians in cold blood, Major Grey - the leader of the ASA and adjacently of Freeland - threatens to bomb Freeland into ash if he doesn't stand down.
But then there's also the time where Gambi calls Khalil an "it" immediately after Lynn confirms his past memories are still in his mind, and excuse me if I sat there in disbelief of how out of character that feels. Speaking of which, I do hope that we don't drag out everyone knowing about Khalil except for Jennifer. I think what's more likely is that Lynn will wind up becoming more of an active figure in Painkiller's missions, which could be kind of interesting moving forward.
Overall, I give 'Black Lightning' Season 3, Episode 7 a score of 8.5/10.
The Flash Season 6, Episode 7 - The Last Temptation of Barry Allen: Part 1
Sendhil Ramamurthy and Grant Gustin star in CW's 'The Flash'
Photo Credit: The CW Network – YouTube
In Episode 7 of Season 6, Ralph is infected by Ramsey after being attacked at the end of the previous episode. To save him, Barry gives Ralph a blood transfusion to transfer his speed-healing to Ralph's cells. In the process, however, this allows Ramsey's cell's to begin to infect Barry's mind, allowing Ramsey access to Barry's memories. Aided by the embodiment of the Speed Force (played by Michelle Harrison), Barry must overcome his own doubts and demons to eliminate Ramsey's infection.
Meanwhile, Iris, Kamilla, and Allegra attempt to investigate the mysterious organization Barry and Ralph learned about, but find themselves coming up with dead ends. Allegra reveals to Iris that Nash Wells told her about Barry's identity, and in the process, attempts to guide Iris through writing the article about Barry's death. Elsewhere, Nash Wells attempts to break into The Monitor's hiding spot underneath Central City.
So 'The Flash' Season 6 (with the exception of last week) has been the most consistently entertaining of the Arrowverse stuff this season. I mean, I figured after last week's Bond-pastiche escapade we'd get something interesting, but this week's "The Last Temptation of Barry Allen: Part 1" gave us a really great episode with some season highlights, even if I wouldn't necessarily call it the season's best (OH DON'T YELL AT ME, 6X2 AND 6X4 ARE RIGHT THERE).
Whereas 'Arrow' has felt like an examination in the larger scale lead-up to 'Crisis,' 'The Flash' has been putting a lot of that focus onto Barry's character, and this episode might be one of the best looks into that. I've loved seeing Barry act as a leader and try and prepare those he loves to take on threats post-Criris, but this is the first time in a few episodes we've actually seen him look inward. I don't necessarily love all the reasons The Speed Force and Ramsey present to him to either die in the Crisis or "choose life" (we'll get to that), but in the end, the result is still the same: Barry has doubts about dying.
He wants to believe that his death will protect his loved ones, but as Ramsey shows and The Speed Force confirms, there is a way to save him. It actually brings up some interesting topics around Barry, like for as twisted Ramsey is, he's still human and his parallels to Barry's life feel all the more logical to Barry. What does The Speed Force have? Cosmic prophecies that Barry can't comprehend, and the face of his dead mother (which also leads to one of the best lines of the entire series: "You're not my mother, you're the reason I buried her" - THAT HURT MY SOUL). Barry's descent into his own mind, being pulled back and forth between truth and ideals; it's remarkably emotional and Grant Gustin delivers maybe one of his best performances of his career in this episode alone.
As far as other things, Iris and Team Citizen are getting more screen time, and frankly, FINALLY. I'm not a die-hard Iris West fan, but it's about time that we actually see her acting as a journalist, and seeing Allegra and Kamilla forming a kind of B-Team to Team Flash is very exciting. But at the same time, we also see Iris struggling in this episode and, unless you're a longtime fan, this might not resonate nearly as much as it did for me. Think about it: that newspaper article, date changes and all, has been one of THE major driving forces in every season of 'The Flash,' and now Iris has to bring that to fruition. Seeing Allegra not holding Barry's secret against Iris and instead guiding her through the article is great, and it almost feels like a parallel to Season 5 of 'Arrow,' where we see the saga of the flashbacks tie into the modern-day narrative.
The episode only falters in a few, albeit significant places. This shows effects have always been passable to a degree, but that opening fight with Ralph and Ramsey simply does not work. It's too static-like, rubbery, and not exciting enough to constitute the sort of suspension of disbelief I can usually muster up with this show. Also, the Nash Wells scene was pointless. Why on earth was this not included last week, when Nash is ACTUALLY part of the story? It feels like the first time we've gotten a 'Crisis' hint that feels forced, it just did not work for me. Significantly, while I (and I cannot stress that enough) loved Barry's journey thought his own doubts in the episode, it seems like Ramsey's offers feel pretty pessimistic to Barry's character. Yes, I get it, Ramsey is playing with him to get his powers, but aside from Iris and Nora, the rest of the things Ramsey shows to Barry to get him to give in aren't all that tempting.
Overall, I give 'The Flash' Season 6, Episode 7 a score of 9/10
Arrow Season 8, Episode 6 - Reset
Rick Gonzalez and Stephen Amell star in CW's 'Arrow'
Photo Credit: TV Promos – YouTube
In Episode 6 of Season 8, Oliver wakes up in his apartment to Mia, William, and Connor telling him he's late for a fundraiser with the mayor. When he arrives, he meets with John and Lyla, who seem to deny Oliver's amnesia, only for Mayor Quintin Lance (played by Paul Blackthorne) to pull Oliver aside to deal with a bomb threat.
Failing to save Quintin from being killed by the bomb, Oliver wakes up once again, and realizes that he is caught in a time loop by Lyla and The Monitor. Discovering that Laurel is part of the loop as well, the two team up with Quintin to break the loop and find out why Lyla has been lying to them for all this time.
Time loops are nothing new in fiction (the Arrowverse themselves have used them heavily in the last few years), although, with The Monitor's cosmic abilities at play, it was only a matter of time before we saw some sort of shenanigans with time loops or something of the sort. It's not the most original idea 'Arrow' has had, but it still utilizes that gimmick well enough and gives our heroes some much-needed closure.
Aside from the time loop angle, the other big aspect the episode has to show off is Paul Blackthorne's return as Quintin Lance. In this "rebooted" loop, Quintin didn't die from his injuries at the end of Season 6 and is still the Mayor of Star City. I've always been a fan of the Arrowverse's father figure characters (Lance, Joe West, Peter Gambi, J'onn, etc.), and I didn't realize how much I missed Blackthorne in this role. He has all the wit, dedication, and warmth that the character had grown into over the years, and it's a great character to bring back in a season full of character returns. I'm almost jealous of showrunners Marc Guggenheim and Beth Schwartz' magic trick of bringing back beloved characters this season, and making them feel like they've never left.
It's not just utilizing gimmicks for fan service, there's actual development in this episode with a fair amount of our characters, mainly with Laurel and Oliver. With Laurel, I love her getting the opportunity to confront Quintin one last time. These two have been through a lot together and Quintin's abrupt death has haunted Laurel for a while, so getting to see that Quintin has always believed in her is truly touching for the character. Oliver's interaction isn't quite as emotionally moving, but it is remarkably important for him to move on from the deaths of those he cares about (almost opposite of Barry's journey over on 'The Flash'). There's even a very quick moment with Mia reassuring her dad that everything's going to be alright, and that was a nice moment as well.
But by far, my favorite bit of the episode is Lyla's discussion with Oliver after the loop closes. It's not that long, and Lyla definitely still has some explaining to do, but that line about how "Time is a gift" I think is going over a lot of people's heads. Oliver has always believed that he can be there to do the right thing, but he won't always be, and I think that that realization is going to be key in Oliver's role as a leader. It also gives (a little bit) of clarity into The Monitor's ideas; that he may have brought back Oliver's kids so he'd be able to see for himself what he'll be fighting for. Again, I might be stretching a bit, but I thought it really landed.
While I understand that Quintin is the focal point of where the characters have to go here, I do find it a bit of a missed opportunity that John isn't included in the loop. So wait...we're supposed to believe that Lyla is protecting John, but she essentially wipes his mind the entire episode? I'm sure we'll get something more with the two of them next week, but I also have to reiterate, the whole "time loop" shtick is becoming a bit overused for me.
I can't say I didn't have fun with how they utilize it in this episode (hey, they even give us an 'Edge of Tomorrow' reference instead of relying on 'Groundhog Day,' that's at least a little different). There's a whole pseudo-mystery of finding out who hired the mercenaries that starts to get revealed piece by piece...and then it's gone. I think a lot of people will be able to get behind this episode (and fair enough, the character beats the episode results in are worth it), but I think like 'Prochnost' last week, this is an episode that could've gone a little deeper with the loop stuff.
Overall, I give 'Arrow' Season 8, Episode 6 a score of 8/10.