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CW Superhero Roundup: Daddy Issues

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Embarrassing acid trip

In this weekly feature, we’ll offer up brief recaps of each of the CW’s ever-increasing stable of interconnected superhero shows – Supergirl, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Arrow. We’ll offer up brief recaps as well as some of our light impressions on each episode.

Supergirl S3E3, "Far From the Tree"

After receiving a desperate message from M'Gann, J'onn returns to Mars with Supergirl in tow to help the White Martian resistance – and discovers his father is still alive. On Earth, Maggie decides it's time to reach out to her estranged father when Eliza throws her and Alex an engagement shower, but she finds that old wounds don't heal so easily.

This episode is so rife with Daddy Drama it's sort of surprising they don't flash the word "DAD" on-screen every five minutes. Still, it works well enough, even if it's a bit shaky at times. Maggie's story is a relevant one – when she came out as a teenager, her dad Oscar left her with aunts and hasn't talked to her since – but there are scenes that feel lifted out of earlier drafts. In their big confrontation, Oscar suggests he's upset because she'd live a life that would open her up to scorn and persecution. It's not a scene that begets any apologies or big make-ups between the two – Maggie rightly tells him off in a later scene near the end of the episode – but it's a weird amount of shading for the story they seem to be telling. I can see them going toward a character with more complex reasoning for his homophobia than just "ewww, gay people" – a character who still has some interiority even if we can recognize his position as objectively and morally wrong. But that's not really supported anywhere else in the episode, where Oscar is a largely one-note "dad uncomfortable with his gay kid" stock character. It doesn't really land, but I suppose it could serve as some foundational work if the character returns later. 

This week's other dad-of-the-week plot works better in that regard, but has problems elsewhere. Supergirl's version of the DC Comics Martian lore has never really translated that well; a little bit goes a long way. It's something that just seems to get inherently sillier the more focus it gets and this episode is no exception ("Where are you going, J'onn?" "MARS." is an early contender for most hilarious dialogue of the episode but I don't think it's intentional). Were it not for the inclusion of Kara it would all feel a bit like an off-brand Star Trek plot – our heroes intervene to help a plucky band of aliens overcome their oppressive overlords, mostly by running around on a cave set looking for a MacGuffin. Still, the character stuff between J'onn and his father, M'yrnn is pretty strong, in no small part because he's played by the stellar Carl Lumbly (a nice nod to Lumbly's time playing J'onn in the 2001 Justice League cartoon and is totally believable as a relation to David Harewood). We're harkening back to J'onn's survivor's guilt and loneliness in a really strong way here, so even if the plot feels sillier than usual the character stuff is really strong. Plus, this episode leaves the door open for Lumbly to return, which I'm super down for.

(Wait, I just realized - is M'yrnn supposed to be a Martianization of the name Myron? Man, this show is wild.)

The Flash S4E3, "Luck Be a Lady"

Team Flash must contend with a metahuman with incredibly good luck – at the expense of the luck of everyone around her. Meanwhile, the team investigates the outbreak of new metahumans with the help of Harrison Wells, who travels from Earth-2 with some bad news for Wally.

This is a light, fun episode that I find hard to nitpick too much – we've got some movement in our various plots, including the discovery that Barry's return from the speed force is what caused the new emergence of metahumans; though, why everyone on the team is so surprised that metas from outside of the original particle accelerator explosion is beyond me – at this point, Team Flash has helped take down an immortal ancient Egyptian priest and an alien invasion and they regularly hang out with a dude who can shrink himself, so the possibility that other metahumans exist should not be quite such a head-scratcher (side note: Barry and Iris expect to get married in six weeks? What?). 

It is a real shame to see Wally leave – at least for now, as I expect he'll pop back up eventually – but it makes a lot of sense, considering the show never seemed to know what to do with him once he became Kid Flash. He played second string more often than not, up to and including last week, when he was taken out as quickly as possible in the final fight to focus on Barry. It makes sense the show'd try to pare down a bit and get back to a single speedster. Essentially writing out both Wally and Jesse in a single episode accomplishes that fairly neatly. Honestly, I can't say I blame them; The Flash has expanded its stable of speedsters almost exponentially each season, with diminishing returns each time. Getting back to basics in that way is a strong indication that the showrunners have an idea of what hasn't worked about the show lately and how to fix it.

Legends of Tomorrow S3E3, "Zari"

The Legends travel to 2042 in pursuit of a time-traveling assassin. The target, Zari, offers to help draw out her attacker in exchange for the Legends' assistance recovering an artifact from a metahuman prison that grants her superhuman powers. Despite some interference from the Time Bureau, the team stops the assassin and offers Zari a spot on the Waverider. Meanwhile, Nate seeks to help Amaya with the problems she's been having with her powers by joining her on vision quest – which isn't all that different from a bad drug trip.

Another relatively light, fun episode – but let's be real, the Nate/Amaya drug scene is downright embarrassing, at least for Nate. The Amaya stuff is fine, but Nate is "Bad Drug Trip 101" – he takes the root or whatever and spends the rest of the episode making making "jokes" mixed with some light physical comedy. It's just...not good, and we spend way too much time on it.

So far, I'm into Tala Ashe as Zari, and the episode does a good job of making us care about her in just 45 minutes. It's also nice to see a member of the Marvel family (Captain Marvel/Shazam, that is, not the comic publisher) onscreen, although it is a little weird that the first one to show up is the character whose superhero name is Isis, right? (I presume that codename won't translate to the show.) It does seem a little weird to connect her amulet to Amaya's totem (at least conceptually) – I don't think that's something in the comics, but I could be wrong.

Arrow S6E3, "Next of Kin"

Team Arrow – now led by Diggle – takes on a black ops team looking to steal nerve gas from Kord Industries. Diggle struggles to find his feet as the Green Arrow, which leads to some friction with the rest of the team. As Oliver settles into his new post-vigilante life, he continues to try and connect with William and deals with an anti-vigilante bill in City Council – all while contending with the continuing FBI probe.

I'm really feeling the spotlight on Diggle this week, and I especially appreciate that we're exploring something besides his issues following last year's finale. We have that, sure, but we're also really digging (heh) into his general uneasiness with being thrust into the top spot. It's some solid character work and, considering his perpetual sidekick role on the show, it makes a lot of sense to take that angle. His heart-to-heart with Oliver is a nice moment, as well, that explicitly touches on conversations the two had in the earliest days of the series. So far, I'm interested in seeing how it unfolds, especially as we potentially set up our exit ramp right at the end of the episode, as Diggle resorts to buying black market to keep his nerve damage in check (but really man, right there in the alley? Go somewhere clean, at least).

Okay, look – I can't be the only one here who thinks scenes between Diggle and Dinah are filmed and acted like they're about two seconds from jumping all over each other? Getting real close and intensely staring into each others' eyes  – if we didn't know John had a wife I'd expect them to be setting something up here. I guess they could be setting something up like that for later in the season, but it doesn't seem like this show's style. I'm guessing we're expected to see Diggle and Dinah as a platonic friendship, which I appreciate...but all of their scenes are set up so oddly that I can't really tell what they're going for.

Hey, still no flashbacks! And Oliver and Felicity are getting back together! 

 


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Matt Liparota
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