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 S3E4, “The Faithful”
Kara discovers a cult that worships Rao, the god of Krypton – made up of people Supergirl has saved, leading her to question the nature of faith. The cult believes being saved by the Girl of Steel is a holy experience – and becomes dangerous when they decide to start converting people en masse. Meanwhile, Samantha juggles her new job as L-Corp CFO and her responsibilities as a single mother, and finds it’s harder than she thinks. Alex is forced to confront the fact that Maggie doesn’t want to have children.
This is a really strong episode, and that’s largely because it slows down a bit and gets a little introspective – at least, as introspective as any of these shows ever get. Superman as a religious icon is something that pops up in the comics from time to time, and it was only a matter of time before the CW’s version of the universe looked at that a bit. Kara’s unease with people worshipping her feels genuine, and her conversation with James touches on how the appearance of Superman and Supergirl would shake up some peoples’ religious beliefs. It’s a conflict that Kara can’t just punch away, and even though we end up presenting it in a way that allows for some superheroics it’s still some crunchy and interesting stuff for the show to deal with.
And hey, it’s good to see James and Winn pulling some strong sidekick work this week. It’s been a while since the show has really given us the sense that these people are, y’know, friends, and this episode gives us at least a couple of scenes to remind us that they’re actually supposed to like each other.
The Flash S3E4, “Elongated Journey into Night”
Ralph Dibny, a crooked ex-cop turned sleazy private investigator, discovers he has elastic powers as a a result of his exposure to speed force dark matter. Team Flash intercedes to help Dibny out, but they’re soon derailed by Barry’s rocky history with him (and his issues with a crooked mayor). Meanwhile, Cisco is pursued by Gypsy’s father, an intimidating meta-human hunter from Earth-19 known as Breacher.
This one is great! The Elongated Man is one of my favorite B-tier characters, and Hartley Sawyer is about as perfect a choice to play Dibny as I can imagine. He looks the part and he’s got a level of smarmy charm that works well for what the show is going for with this version of the character. The end of this episode and the preview for next week indicates Dibny will stick around for a while, and I’m into that.
The Cisco stuff is decent enough, and features Danny Trejo just kind of doing his Danny Trejo thing. That said, let’s address something the show has been doing that it doesn’t seem to have any intention of changing – it’s 2017 and this show prominently features a character called “Gypsy.” These days, that word is widely considered a slur for the Romani people. It is true that the character here is loosely based on a longstanding DC Comics character of the same name – and that’s pretty messed up too. This episode even gives us an out by revealing her real name and then doubling down on her codename. Uncool, The Flash.
Legends of Tomorrow S3E4, “Phone Home”
As Zari gets accustomed to being on the team, the Legends travel to 1988 to protect a young Ray, who’s died under mysterious circumstances. The team discovers Ray has made an alien friend he’s hiding in his bedroom – a baby Dominator, who’s being pursued by both government forces and other Dominators. Meanwhile, Mick and Jax are worried Stein is in touch with the Time Bureau when he begins acting strangely, but he’s actually been stepping out to see his daughter.
I haven’t traditionally been all that into episodes of Legends that are riffing on a particular pop culture mainstay – I found last year’s George Lucas episode wanting – but this one works pretty well. It hits all of the moments you expect from an E.T. pastiche, for better and worse. Ray as a lonely kid desperate for a friend is some relatively strong stuff, even if Nate wanting to bang his mom…isn’t.
It seems pretty clear we’re setting up to write Martin Stein out of the show, and if that’s the case I can’t say I’m that surprised. It seems like Victor Garber tends to get the short end of the stick when it comes to the two halves of Firestorm, and he’s way too good for a lot of the material he gets. Maybe we’re working toward something else here, but if Garber is going to stick around he’s got to get some more to do.
Arrow S6E4, “Reversal”
Felicity’s old hactivist frenemy Alena returns, seeking help in stopping hacker Cayden James – who Felicity helped free from ARGUS captivity – who’s returned from captivity angry and seeking revenge. Meanwhile, Diggle and the rest of Team Arrow track Black Siren, who’s resurfaced by leaving a seemingly random trail of bodies in her wake. As Oliver struggles to find a way to help Felicity, the separate investigations lead to the same place – Siren and James are working together on a plan to take down the entire Internet that would result in millions of deaths.
I found most of the Helix stuff last season to be fairly boring and obnoxious, but this does it for me this week – likely thanks to adding the phenomenal Michael Emerson into the mix. We seem to be setting Cayden James up as our villain this year, or at least for the first part of the season, which I’m totally okay with, especially paired with Black Siren. Katie Cassidy is doing some strong work here, and clearly enjoys being able to chew the scenery. I’ve always thought she was an underrated and unfairly maligned character when she was original flavor Laurel Lance, but she seems to have really come into her own playing the evil version.
Not much else to say this week – still enjoying Diggle-as-Green-Arrow, and I’m happy we take a full break from focusing on his injury and burgeoning drug addiction. We already seem to be wondering what to do with Oliver in this new version of the show, with a lot of his screentime this week devoted to figuring out how fits into the team. It could be a one-off, but the end of this episode sets up another plot that allows Oliver to do punchy-kicky stuff next week. Nothing wrong with that necessarily, but I don’t want this to be a theme for however long we keep this story up; if you’re going to bend over backwards to write ways for Stephen Amell to do some action you might as well just put him back in the hood.
Next week: Barry has a bachelor party, Oliver hangs out with the dude who killed his mom, the Legends hunt down a vampire and Lena…blows up a plane or something?