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 S3E6, “Midvale”
Kara takes Alex on a weekend getaway to their childhood home in Midvale to help get her mind off her breakup. In flashback, the origins of the Danvers’ sisters relationship is explored; the girls’ rocky relationship begins to evolve and change when the two team up to solve the murder of a fellow classmate and friend, discovering dark secrets of their small town in the process.
I’ve never seen Riverdale, but it strikes me that “Midvale” is riffing on that a bit, unintentionally or not, albeit filtered through Supergirl’s particular style. That’s not a bad thing – this is a solid episode, even if it is one I don’t have much to say about one way or another. That said, it is fairly predictable if you’re at all familiar with this kind of story, and it’s easy to see where this thing is going. But it’s still a fun ride, and we’ve got a couple of strong actresses playing young Alex and Kara, and both are believably younger versions of their older counterparts. I’m guessing this episode largely exists as a one-off to free up our main cast for the upcoming Arrowverse crossover, but it turned out better than I would’ve expected.
The Flash S4E6 “When Harry Met Harry…”
Barry and Ralph clash over their differing philosophies regarding superheroics. Meanwhile, the team tracks down a metahuman known as Black Bison, a woman who can bring statues and sculptures to life, and uses it to hunt down the artifacts of her Sioux tribe. Searching for a lead on DeVoe, Wells reaches out to his new friends – alternate versions of himself from across the multiverse.
This is a fun episode – Ralph is still working on me as a character, and I’m pleased we’re starting to move beyond “lecherous skeev” as his primary characteristic. The debate about the nature of superheroics at the center of this episode is a strong one, and both characters have a point. But one can see the potential utility in Ralph’s approach – where Barry sees saving civilians as the priority, Ralph leans toward capturing the villain first and foremost, which in his mind would presumably prevent potential injuries or fatalities in the future. It’s an interesting question and, while we obviously end up siding with Barry here, I’m glad we’re exploring it here.
I can take or leave the Wells stuff, to be honest – it’s mostly an excuse for Tom Cavanaugh to do a bunch of silly impersonations. It works well enough, but I had the same reaction to this as I had when they pulled this trick last year – it’s funny, but I never want to see these versions of the character ever again.
Legends of Tomorrow S3E6 “Helen Hunt”
Helen of Troy finds herself in 1940s Hollywoodland, launching a bidding war between two studios hoping to making her a star. Desperate to escape her life in ancient Greece, Helen isn’t exactly receptive to the Legends’ attempts to correct the timeline, but the bidding war soon begins to resemble an actual war. Damian Dahrk tells Sarah he’ll spare the Legends if they stay out of his way and stop trying to fix anachronisms. Ray’s attempt to separate Firestorm leads to a body-swap between Stein and Jax. Amaya has another run-in with assassin Kuasa, whose powers are derived from a Zambazian totem, just like hers.
Okay, let’s bring it down for a second. An episode about a woman so stunningly gorgeous that she leads the men of Hollywood to just about lose their minds at the mere sight of her has some deeply uncomfortable connotations in our current cultural moment, where we’re approaching something akin to a reckoning for the culture of sexual harassment, assault and silence that’s plagued Hollywood for decades. It’s especially uncomfortable for this show, as Andrew Kriesberg, an executive producer on this show and the other Arrowverse series, was suspended just last week following allegations of misconduct. Kriesberg didn’t write or direct this episode and stories about the dark side of Hollywood are nothing new, especially set in this era – it’s just exceptionally uncomfortable timing for an episode featuring several scenes of the male cast basically falling all over themselves because this week’s guest star is just so hot. If there was ever a time that this particular brand of pratfalling is cute and harmless, this is not it.
Beyond those uncomfortable connotations, the Helen of Troy plot is standard Legends stuff, or at least as standard as this show ever gets. Nothing to write home about, which probably makes the unfortunate real-life parallels all the more amplified. In the Jax/Stein body-swap, we have another B-plot that probably seemed like a good idea at the time but executes poorly. Legends leans into the trope and has each actor do an affectation of his counterpart, but that includes some truly unfortunate vocal work – Franz Drameh’s Victor Garber impersonation is downright painful, and Garber’s Drameh is only slightly better. It’s an interesting idea, but it isn’t particularly interesting or funny (seriously, what’s with the bit where Stein-as-Jax really wants to hook up with Rita Heyworth so much that he has special permission from his wife?).
Arrow S3E6 “Promises Kept”
With his son revealed to be the leader of the Jackals, Slade must decide where his loyalties truly lie, especially when he discovers the mercenary group plans to undertake a dangerous mission – not to mention that the group captures Oliver and puts his fate in Slade’s hand. Team Arrow tracks down a criminal known as The Dragon, who steals tech from across the city to support his high-end illegal drug business – which happens to be the same operation that supplies Diggle with the drugs he uses to treat his nerve damage. In flashback, the origins of “Deathstroke” are revealed.
This season of Arrow keeps zagging on me (it is still Twenty-Serpentine for another few weeks, so I guess that makes sense). It’s not surprising at all that The Dragon ends up being Diggle’s supplier – that’s obvious the second Fringe alum Kirk Acevedo waltzes on-screen. I was, however, surprised that we’re dispatching with Diggle’s secrecy about his condition and self-medication so quickly; this is only the second episode this season we’ve addressed his drug use, and the first time we went there was when it was revealed he was using. I would have expected this subplot to extend at least a few episodes longer, and that we’d get a lot more scenes of Diggle conflictingly staring at syringes. My prediction that this would be a backdoor through which Oliver would retake the hood seems to have been false, as this episode has Diggle eventually coming clean to just about everyone. And that’s good! I’ve said before that I’m enjoying how Diggle as the Green Arrow is shaking up the formula this year, if only slightly, and I’m happy we’re both apparently not looking to end that anytime soon and that our characters are acting like actual people and confiding in their friends when they have problems.
Also…see you at the crossroads, I guess, Slade? This episode seems intent on bringing Deathstroke full circle, and that super-dramatic shot of him walking into the well-lit fog at the end seems to indicate that Arrow thinks this is the last we’ve seen of Manu Bennett. I assume that has something to do with the forthcoming Deathstroke movie and WB’s weird insistence on not having too many versions of the same character out in the world at once (remember how they basically killed off the entire Suicide Squad a few years ago?), otherwise I’d expect the show to keep the door open for one of its most popular characters (and representation of what remains the show’s best season) to return in the future, especially now that he’s got his feet planted firmly in the “antihero” camp. Still, these two episodes haven’t been a terrible way for him to go out, and he even leaves us with a little Deathstroke Jr. to take his place if The CW ever needs a reason to put someone in the costume to boost ratings. Win-win!
Next week: Mon-El is back! Barry stalks a man in a wheelchair! The Legends go to Vietnam! Oliver gets arrested!