Ripper Street Season 5 Review (Spoilers)

  • Title:  Ripper Street
  • Season: 5
  • Episodes: 6
  • Discs: 2
  • Cast: Matthew MacFadyen, Adam Rothenberg, MyAnna Buring, Jonas Armstrong
  • Network:  BBC (Co-Produced by BBC, BBC Worldwide, Amazon Prime, BBC America)
  • DVD Format:  Widescreen, Color, DVD, R1, NTSC

Spoilers

Season 5 of Ripper Street opens where the previous season ended, with Edmund Reid, Capt. Homer Jackson, and Long Susan on the run. Reid’s sergeant, Drake, had been killed by Nathaniel, which they witnessed. Nathaniel is protected by his police inspector brother, Augustus Dove. Jedediah Shine returns to run Leman Street.

The season is driven by two forces: police corruption and personal loyalty. Not only is Augustus protecting his brother, but he’s willing to go to great extents to do so, including murdering anyone who knows the truth. Meanwhile, Reid’s existence now depends on loyalty – Jackson and Susan (who also have self-interest at heart, they know Reid is their best chance at survival), but the few honest coppers – Drummond and Thatcher, and also Reid’s daughter, Mathilda.

The third episode of this season tells Nathaniel’s story – not his past, which we’ve known since last season, but his present. Augustus Dove smuggles Nathaniel out of Whitechapel, and sets him up in a small house out on the moors, alone. Nathaniel catches eels in the nearby river, which he sells to the fishmonger. When for several days the fishmonger fails to arrive, Nathaniel says something to Augustus. He is basically both concerned and desperately needs people. Augustus warns against contact. Nathaniel ignores his brother, meets the fishmonger’s family, and discovers the old fishmonger has died. In due course, Nathaniel helps the young widow and her son. But also in the household is Caleb, the widow’s brother, a loathsome, brutish man. He’s the one who got drunk and killed his sister’s husband. He also abuses his sister. And, when working in the market, he mistreats Jews and overcharges them. Nathaniel gets closer to the widow. The brother finds out about it. Nathaniel and the brother fight – with the result that Nathaniel kills both the brother and the widow. The young boy, Robin, sees the murder and runs away to Whitechapel.

Augustus covers everything up, and takes in the injured Nathaniel in his own home. Augustus is also now raising Connor, the son of Homer Jackson and Long Susan. They had left the boy in the care of Bennett Drake and his wife, Rose, but after she’s widowed, she leaves Whitechapel and gives the boy to her childhood friend, Augustus.

The boy escapes, briefly. He’s taken in by Reid, Jackson, Susan, and Mimi – an old friend of Jackson who is rebuilding her theatre. However, the boy finds a newspaper that shows Reid and company as fugitives. So Robin runs. He’s found by one of the loyal police officers. However, Augustus Dove quickly discovers the boy. Before Robin can tell all he knows to the police, Dove uses his personally loyal police from J Division to take the boy away. Dove kills the child and dumps him in the river.

Reid and Jackson find the body, and at that point Jackson decides, that’s it, it’s over. There is nothing Dove won’t do and nothing they can do to bring him to justice. At first Reid argues, but then he also accepts his fate, and buries the child.

Jackson (nee Matthew Judge) and his wife Long Susan (nee Kaitlyn Swift) decide to take Connor from Dove’s house and run. They burst in, guns blazing. They injure the police on duty, kill the governess, and confront Nathaniel who is holding Connor. Susan tells Nathaniel that Augustus killed Robin. Nathaniel gives Connor to her. Nathaniel asks Augustus about the boy’s death, and Augustus lies.

Drummond sets-up Reid, and he’s arrested. Shine is at the arrest and beats up Reid. Then Shine collapses and dies. Chief Inspector Fred Abberline returns to take charge at Leman St. Reid doesn’t talk much after his arrest, but does tell Thatcher (a loyal police officer) about Robin’s death and where he buried the body. Nathaniel, meanwhile follows Thatcher. He sees Thatcher recover the body and then witnesses Augustus shoot and kill Thatcher and dump him in the nearby river, before dumping the Robin’s body again. Once his brother is gone, Nathaniel recovers the body.

Nathaniel takes the body to Reid and company, and Susan convinces him to turn himself in. Susan also convinces Matthew that before they leave, she must tell Mathilda the truth. Susan confesses her sins, including murder, to Mathilda. One of the murders that she confesses to is one that Reid was blamed for. Susan convinces Nathaniel to turn himself in. The two do so together. Susan turns herself in to the police. Nathaniel turns himself in to the police. Augustus denies even knowing his brother. However, Jackson examines the body of the child, Robin. It turns out he had Scarlet Fever which now affects Mimi and Augustus Dove. Nathaniel and Susan are taken to Newgate Prison and eventually executed. Homor Jackson takes back his original name, Matthew Judge, and returns with Connor to the US. Reid goes back to policing, in Whitechapel.

The remainder of the final episode is a collection of Reid re-experiencing his memories of previous cases, including the unsolved Ripper murders. But also, everyone leaves Whitechapel. Mathilda marries Drummond anyway, and they move away. The two have a daughter. Mathilda excludes her father from her life. Mimi also leaves Whitechapel, but her theatre opens. Augustus Dove is arrested, sent to Newgate, and his paperwork intentionally lost. The police do not want to put him on trial because too much police corruption will be exposed. But they don’t want him loose either. Reid ends up, sitting behind his desk, at Leman Street, devoting every fiber of his being to policing and justice, as he had before when the series starts.

Ripper Street is still an excellent series. The episodes are intense. The entire cast, including Jonas Armstrong (previously seen in the BBC’s Robin Hood) as Nathaniel are fantastic. The themes of the season, police corruption and personal loyalty, intertwine in a dramatic fashion and play off each other. People switch sides. People try to serve justice, but make mistakes. At times, blind loyalty has high costs, but at other times, it’s the only way to solve the issues. Also, the costumes, lightening, sets, etc. are wonderful as they have always been in this series.

The only negative I had was I could not for the life of me understand the actor playing Jedediah Shine. I’m usually good with accents, but I found Shine’s mumbling impossible to understand and it wasn’t helped by his full beard and mustache. I ended up having to turn on the captions whenever he was on screen and turn them off when he was gone. As Shine is an important character, this wasn’t helpful.

Also, I missed the daily life in Victorian Whitechapel approach of previous seasons. Previous seasons of this show had really shown the darker edge of the Victorian Era, from disease to child labor. This season focuses entirely on the main characters, and our three main characters are on the run. While this laser focus helps the season itself, it also leaves a gap. We really don’t have any idea what else is going on in Whitechapel at the time. Still Ripper Street is an excellent series and I highly recommend it.

See also, My Review of Third Season Ripper Street and My Review of Fourth Season Ripper Street.

Book Review – Star Trek Green Lantern vol. 2: Stranger Worlds

  • Title: Star Trek/Green Lantern vol. 2: Stranger Worlds
  • Author: Mike Johnson
  • Artist: Angel Hernandez, Mark Roberts, Andworld Design
  • Characters: Capt. Kirk, Dr. McCoy, Spock, Scotty, Uhura, Chekov (ST 2009); Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Guy Gardner, Kilowog, Carol Ferris, Guardians, Saint Walker, Sinestro, Khan, LarFleeze, Atrocitus, Manhunters, Klingons
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: IDW Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/27/2017

Stranger Worlds picks up where the previous volume, Spectrum War left off, with the Lanterns learning to adapt to life in the Star Trek film reboot universe. Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Kilowog, and even Guy Gardner have a problem – with no individual lanterns and no Great Power Battery their rings cannot be re-charged, and they are running out of power. Hal and Carol Ferris are now members of Starfleet but not together. Carol, in fact, has joined the engineering department and fallen for Montgomery Scott. However, Carol can still become a Star Sapphire by using her ring, but has the same problem as the other Lanterns – she’s running out of power. John, Kilowog, and Guy are on Earth, but are soon called in to help Star Fleet.

Before long, Sinestro and Atrocitus show up. Atrocitus finds Khan (the Benedict Cumberbatch Khan from the reboot film) by landing on the asteroid where he and his Augments were put in suspended animation. Sinestro discovers the Manhunters and wants them to lead him to Oa so he can find the yellow impurity in the Great Lantern Power Battery and impose an empire of Fear. Khan, on the other hand, takes Atrocitus’ red power ring but can’t seem to use it. When he kills Atrocitus, he is then able to use the Ring of Anger with it’s full power.

The Enterprise crew, discovering the Manhunters, and learning their history from the Lanterns, must decide if they will go to Earth to stop Khan and his genetic augments or go to Oa. Hal Jordan convinces Kirk and Spock that Sinestro is the bigger threat.

The Enterprise and the Lanterns reach Oa. The Guardians exists, and are in very early days for their researches into the color spectrum and harnessing it’s power. Sinestro attempts to take and corrupt the power battery. He fails. The Green Lanterns recite their oath – and the rings are fully charged. They also swear to find the other power batteries. Something which should be much easier, now that they have found the Guardians. The Guardians will start a new Green Lantern Corps.

In the concluding pages of the volume, Hal offers to lead Kirk to an uncharted star system with a big, red, sun.

I enjoyed Stranger Worlds. The Star Trek and Green Lantern universes mesh well together. The art for this volume, especially the full-page spreads, is beautiful. The characterizations are also very well done, especially considering how large the cast is. I hope that IDW continues to publish additional volumes in this series, because I would certainly read them.

The previous volume was concerned with introductions and set-up. This particular volume is concerned with normalizing the situation – getting the Lanterns their power back, fighting the negative rings again (the orange ring of Larfleeze and the Red Ring used by Khan are captured and put in stasis to keep them from being used by anyone). Khan himself is defeated. Sinestro, not so much, but he fails to turn the Green Power Battery into a yellow one. St. Walker is mentioned, and has been captured, and finding him and helping him recover is sure to be grounds for another story. No mention is made of the Enterprise crew members that were chosen by other rings in the previous volume. There are situations in this volume that are a bit confusing here and there, but overall it is a fun tie-in SF story and highly recommended.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Transit of Venus

  • Title: The Transit of Venus
  • Series: Doctor Who Companion Chronicles
  • Discs: 1 CD
  • Author: Jacqueline Rayner
  • Director: Nigel Fairs
  • Characters: Ian Chesterton, Joseph Banks (guest), First Doctor
  • Cast: William Russell, Ian Hallard
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/23/2017

**Spoiler Alert** Big Finish’s Companion Chronicles series features stories told from the point of view of the Doctor’s companions. This series gives Big Finish the opportunity to tell stories set in previous eras of the British Television Series, Doctor Who with previous Doctors and companions. In that aspect, the Companion Chronicles are similar to the Missing Adventures and Past Doctor Adventures original novels. The Transit of Venus is performed by William Russell as Ian Chesterton, and is set in the First Doctor (William Hartnell) Era. As is the case with many of the Companion Chronicles, Russell is joined in his performance by Ian Hallard as Joseph Banks. The Transit of Venus is a pure historical story. The only science fiction elements are the TARDIS, and Ian’s references to the previous television story, “The Sensorites”.

The story opens with the Doctor, now very angry with Ian and Barbara, dropping them off someplace on Earth. He doesn’t even stay to see if they are in fact in 20th Century Earth or to check that they are alright. In turns out they are not alright, and, luckily for Barbara and Ian, Susan insists that her grandfather (the Doctor) stay and check. The Doctor and Susan see Ian and Barbara being attacked by the sailors of the 18th-century sailing ship they have landed on. The Doctor and Ian end up staying on the ship and Susan, Barbara, and the TARDIS are pushed over the side. Thus, this is a First Doctor and Ian story. Never fear, though, Barbara, Susan, and the TARDIS are found and the crew reunited at the end of the story. In some aspects, this is typical of early Doctor Who – the stories often depended on the TARDIS crew being separated and reuniting later. Often such separations serve the plot by the crew separately learning important information which is later pooled for plot purposes. Other times, characters disappearing serve more practical purposes – giving the actors on the show some much-needed time off (back in the days when producing Doctor Who was closer to three-quarters of the year repertory theatre than modern television. In the case of this audio play, having half the cast missing for all but the opening and closing scenes seems to have been done for purely practical reasons – fewer characters make the story smaller and easier to tell on audio.

However, this is not purely a negative. Once it becomes apparent that this will be a Doctor and Ian story, the listener can just go with it, and it is still a very enjoyable story. Ian and the Doctor end-up on Captain Cook’s Endeavour sailing ship, navigating the Pacific Ocean on their way to charting Australia and discovering the Cook Islands. The story is educational – teaching about the famous voyage as well as the geography of the region – the groups of islands, their names, the coastal features of Australia, etc. It’s the type of story that if filmed, especially with some sort of budget, could be extremely enjoyable, sort of Doctor Who does Master and Commander. Because this is Doctor Who there is another plot to pass the time on the long ship voyage – Ian meets Joseph Banks, a famed botanist. Yet, whenever Ian is alone with Banks, weird things seem to happen. Ian sees Banks shoot an albatross that is following the ship, and Ian warns him of the superstition against killing an albatross. Then he hears Banks quote the Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Later, as Ian approaches Banks’ cabin, he hears voices, which, to Ian, sound like Banks is reading aloud a diary entry containing information about the future. A few days later, Banks and Ian are on the ship’s deck, and Ian becomes fearful of Banks and even believes Banks pushed him overboard. Banks rescues Ian and states that he became disoriented on the ship and fell. As a result of his dunking in the ocean – Ian becomes quite sick, contracting a fever, and is cabin-bound. Ian has additional strange experiences on the ship, especially when near Banks.

Finally, the Endeavoour reaches the place in Australia where Ian knows they will land. And he sees Susan and Barbara on the shore. Barbara explains briefly what happened to them, how they survived, and even tells him that since they knew they would have a long wait – she had, as a history teacher, filled Susan in on the history of Captain Cook’s voyage, even telling Susan about The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and later that she had sung “Botany Bay” to her. Susan, after her experiences on the Sensesphere, it turns out, still had latent telepathic abilities. It was Susan who had unwittingly transferred information to Banks that Ian picked up. Information that Banks himself was unaware of, but that because of his familiarity with Susan, Ian was able to hear as a ghostly voice. This is a bit of a science fiction element – but The Transit of Venus is not a story where Joseph Banks is secretly an alien or time traveler as Ian at first suspects. Also, Ian is actually experiencing something outside his normal experience even as, by this point in the First Doctor Era, he is a seasoned time traveler himself. Playing with Ian’s emotions could have come off as cruel, but instead, it suits the story and the characters – and everything works out. After being reunited the TARDIS crew leaves in the TARDIS.

I enjoyed The Transit of Venus as a purely historical Doctor Who story for the most part. Ian’s suspicions are played more as paranoia than something really going on – which is novel for a Doctor Who story. Yes, in the Doctor Who universe if a character thinks someone is an alien and up to no good – they usually are. So for the accused to not be an alien is actually a surprise. Plus, Ian is a practical man and a man of science. Before meeting the Doctor he would have dismissed aliens, time travel, and the like. Now, dropped into a purely normal situation (albeit in 1770), Ian leaps to the opposite conclusion – based on his last couple of years of personal experience. That is pure Ian.

I did miss having Barbara in the story. I’ve always liked the Ian-Barbara dynamic, and the two had great chemistry as a couple. It is no wonder that in fan canon they are not only a couple but a married one. And this long-standing fan theory was even made canon in an episode of, The Sarah Jane Adventures. However, even though I would have liked to see Barbara in the story – if she had been on the ship with Ian, there would have been no conflict. The two, plus the Doctor, would have simply had a nice sea cruise. Enjoyable for them, but probably a bit boring for the audience. And Ian’s concerns and fears were played particularly well – playing off the audience’s expectations for a Doctor Who story, without making the character look like an idiot.

Overall, this is an excellent historical Doctor Who adventure. The CD version includes a panel interview with the cast, director, and producer as well as a trailer for the next Big Finish Companion Chronicles adventure. Recommended.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com

Click here to order The Transit of Venus on CD or Download.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!

Book Review – Red Hood and the Outlaws vol. 2: Who Is Artemis

  • Title: Red Hood and the Outlaws vol. 2: Who Is Artemis?
  • Author: Scott Lobdell
  • Artist: Dexter Soy, Mirko Colak, Tom Derenick, Kenneth Rocafort, Veronica Gandini, Dan Brown, Taylor Esposito
  • Line: Rebirth
  • Characters: Red Hood (Jason Todd), Artemis (of the Amazons), Bizarro (Superman’s clone)
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/23/2017

**Spoiler Alert** I enjoyed volume 2 of Red Hood and the Outlaws just as much as I enjoyed volume 1, and I also read volume 2 twice. Jason Todd, Bizarro, and Artemis are turning out to be a great team, if not exactly conventional – although that is part of the charm. Volume 2 starts off with Red Hood (Jason Todd) challenging a group of mobsters and drug lords. He basically tells them to leave Gotham now or else. The mobsters of course do not listen. Bizarro joins the fight and when Killer Croc arrives to help the villains, he destroys Killer Croc. However, this croc is a fake, a robot. The gangsters are angry that they didn’t get the “merchandise” they paid for – but Jason is concerned about Bizarro’s actions and violence. However, when Jason asks specifically if Bizarro knew Croc was not alive – Bizarro states he knew.

Returning home to their hideout, Jason talks to Artemis who has discovered more information about Bizarro. The Superman clones from Cadmus have all been extremely violent, and Lex Luthor had ordered their destruction. Bizarro escapes. Next, Jason and Bizarro are on a hill in the country overlooking Gotham. Bizarro talks of his memories and then states that he knows they aren’t real. However, he also wants to make new memories with “Red Him” (Red Hood) and “Red Her” (Artemis). Jason considers shooting Bizarro, but changes his mind.

Artemis and Jason look for information to help her find the Bow of Ra. This leads them to Qurac. Both Jason and Artemis must confront their pasts as well as learning to trust and rely on each other and Bizarro. Jason is quickly captured by soldiers. He’s taken to the exact place where he died as a teenager (see A Death in the Family). Jason not only must confront his memories of what happened and his feelings and anger at the Joker for causing his death, but he hallucinates his own wounded body and has to confront the spirit. Jason is able to conquer his fears, his memories, and his triggers.

Jason then realizes from conversations with the local dictator that it isn’t the dictator who has the Bow of Ra. The dictator of Qurac had it at one point, and in trying to use it, Artemis’s once friend, Akila (the Shim’tar) was brought back from the dead (something Jason has unique experience with) and the experience left her, well, less than sane (something else that Jason has experience with). But Jason also learns the dictator no longer has the deadly weapon. And if he no longer has it, there is only one other person who could – and who was incidentally responsible for the slaughter in the country of Qurac.

Meanwhile, Artemis seeks out her friend. She is welcomed back with open arms to the company of Amazons. Slowly she begins to suspects something is wrong, but she accepts Akila’s tale that the dictator is responsible for everything.

Meanwhile, Bizarro locates a band of refugees and attempts to aid them. Bizarro gives the impression of a simple but gentle giant – like the “monster” in some versions of Frankenstein (essentially the “monster” isn’t monstrous – it’s the people around him and by their reactions that become monsters). The people treat Bizarro well when he tries to help, but when their trek ends at the base of a mountain, one man explodes in anger.

The final conflict is between the soldiers of Qurac, the Amazons-in-exile, Artemis, Jason, and Akila. Jason quickly convinces Artemis that the dictator doesn’t have the Bow of Ra. Artemis realizes only Akila could have it. She confronts Akila who admits attacking the citizenry of Qurac with it, because she wishes her people to be free. There is a battle. Bizarro knocks his way through the mountain and joins in. Artemis realizes she is also Shim’tar – a position both women had battled and trained for. She picks up the Bow and fires an arrow at Akila. The power of the bow does not harm Artemis but flows through her. It hits Akila full force, who is overwhelmed and about to explode with considerable power (not to mention damage). Bizarro flies her straight up, where she explodes out of harms way of any innocents. Bizarro falls to Earth and appears dead.

Again, Red Hood and the Outlaws is an impressive book. The characters are deep and complex. Although all three may be termed “anti-heroes”, none would violate their own personal code for personal gain or to harm others. Even when confronting gangsters, Jason, surprisingly finds a less terminal way to get them out of Gotham. Jason would be appalled if Bizarro were to use extreme force. Artemis is in many ways the same – she can be extremely violent, especially if the Bow of Ra becomes a permanent part of her kit. Yet, she also has a code. And it may be her code that led to her friend to be chosen by the gods to hold the Bow. Yet it now appears Artemis was chosen instead – or she is certainly chosen now. Bizarro is, well, he’s the gentle giant – he wants to help and is slowly learning his own strength and how to limit that. Jason now knows he can trust Bizarro within limits. However, at the end of the current volume, Bizarro is dead. That most certainly won’t last, because: comics. Red Hood and the Outlaws is a surprisingly well-written, intense book with complex, driven characters. I do feel it needs to expand a bit and additional team members brought on board, but overall I am very impressed and will continue to buy the series in graphic novel format.

Doctor Who References in the Arrowverse

Since the beginning of the television series, Arrow, the CW’s DC shows have referenced the long-running BBC television show, Doctor Who on a fairly regular basis. These are references from the 2016-2017 seasons of Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and The Flash.

Casting

Arrow and the rest of the CW’s Arrowverse has featured many former Doctor Who actors, including Colin Salmon as Walter Steele in Arrow, Arthur Darvill as Rip Hunter in Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow and The Flash, John Barrowman as Malcolm Merlyn in Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash, and Alex Kingston as Dinah Lance in Arrow. The most amusing of these is, of course, Arthur Darvill who played the companion Rory Williams to Matt Smith’s Doctor, and who now leads his own merry band of time travelers in Legends.

Legends of Tomorrow References

Corrupt Time Masters and Villainous Time Lords

The first season of Legends of Tomorrow featured the Time Masters, a group who are supposed to be guardians of time, but as the season progresses are shown to be corrupt. On Doctor Who, the Doctor is a Time Lord who escaped his own planet, Gallifrey. In the Classic series, when the Doctor met other Time Lords, such as the Meddling Monk, the Master, the Rani, or the War Chief, they were often villains. When the Doctor returned to Gallifrey, he, more often than not uncovered corruption at the heart of his own society. Even when the Doctor was put on trial by his own people, the Doctor ended up uncovering corruption and conspiracy and challenging it. When the new series started, Gallifrey was simply no more, destroyed in the Time War. Over the ten-plus years of the New Series, we have learned more about that conflict, but the tendency for corruption of power on Gallifrey certainly hasn’t stopped. There is, then, a certain resemblance between the corruption Rip Hunter uncovers at the heart of the Time Masters and the corruption the Doctor faces on Gallifrey every so often.

Where have We Seen This Before?

In the second season of Legends of Tomorrow, the Waverider has a new computer console. This six-sided console looks very similar to the TARDIS console.

This is especially true when you consider the TARDIS console room is redesigned on a regular basis on Doctor Who.

Lily – Second Doctor Cosplayer?

In the second season of Legends of Tomorrow due to Martin Stein meeting his younger self, when he returns to the present he meets his daughter – Lily Stein. Previously, Martin and his wife, Clarice had no children. Now, they have a brilliant daughter, a physicist named, Lily. Lily, though with her black string ties, white shirts, and black jackets or cardigans dresses more like the Second Doctor than she dresses like the other intelligent women on the CW shows, such as Caitlin, Felicity, Kara, or Sara.

Rip Hunter – Missing in Time with an Personality Over-Write

In the second season of Legends of Tomorrow, Rip Hunter is missing in time. When the Legends find him, his personality has been hidden and over-written as a form of protection. Because of this he doesn’t know who he really is (he thinks he’s a film student), nor does he recognize the Legends.

This is eerily similar to the final three episodes of Series 3 of Doctor Who, in which the Master as played by Sir Derek Jacobi has hidden his personality inside a pocket watch to hide himself from the Time Lords. With his personality hidden – he doesn’t remember being the Master or even being a Time Lord – he thinks he is a scientist. When the watch is opened, not only does he remember being the Master, he regenerates into John Simm.

Rip Hunter also remembers but is immediately captured by the Legion of Doom and re-programmed to do their bidding.

Legends of Tomorrow – Curiously American Doctor Who?

Of course, the entire premise of Legends of Tomorrow, that of a group of Time Travelers out to preserve history and prevent or reverse aberrations in the timeline, does in many ways remind one of Doctor Who. Now, for much of it’s history the Doctor and his companions have treated history as a prime vacation spot – but also as the “foreign country that’s a nice place to visit but you wouldn’t want to live there”. In other words, the Doctor and his companions neither set out to change history nor set out specifically as a goal to stop others from changing history. Nevertheless, a frequent plot in Doctor Who is that someone or something is out, deliberately or merely by their presence, to change history and the Doctor must stop it. Certainly, Daleks invading London in the 1980s would have an effect on history for example. So the ability to interfere, to change history, or in some cases to not change history, are frequent plot threads in Doctor Who.

Supergirl References

Starry Night

In the Supergirl episode, “Star-Crossed”, Winn’s alien girlfriend frames him for stealing the painting, Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh. Starry Night also featured heavily in the Doctor Who episode, “Vincent and the Doctor”. Although Vincent Van Gogh and Starry Night are both famous, so it is perhaps not surprising that on Supergirl, Winn would be framed for stealing that particular painting. But the show could have had any Old Masters painting stolen for plot purposes or it could have been a modern painting as well (and in many ways, modern art would have suited the plot better). That “Starry Night” was chosen seems like a deliberate reference.

Single Combat for the Planet

In the two-part season 2 finale of Supergirl, she challenges Rhea “for the planet” as a way of stopping the Queen of Daxam from conquering Earth. In David Tennant’s first episode, “The Christmas Invasion”, the Doctor (David Tennant), having discovered the invading force are using “blood control” to control and threaten a fourth of the population of Earth, challenges the aliens to single combat – “for the planet”. The Doctor wins his fight against the aliens. Supergirl eventually defeats Rhea, despite Rhea using Kryptonite against Kara. However, Rhea doesn’t accept defeat and calls in her guards.

The Doctor Who plot point of “blood control”, is very similar to the way Myriad is used in the first season of Supergirl to control National City citizens.

The Flash References

“It’s like one of those scientific romances by that Wells, chappie”

The claim to fame for HR Wells in Season 3 of The Flash is that he is a writer of “scientific romances”. This is the exact term used for HG Wells’ writing in “Pyramids of Mars” and “Time Lash”. HG Wells is mentioned fairly often on Classic Doctor Who. Also, having a character named HR Wells – just saying.

Savitar’s Back-up Plan

After HR Wells sacrifices himself to save Iris West, Savitar has another brief plan that he describes to Barry: he will split himself across all time and these splinters will rule time and incidentally destroy Barry’s life. In the classic Tom Baker episode, “City of Death”, Scaroth – last of the Jagaroth, has been split across time after his spaceship crash lands. Because these different versions of Scaroth are in contact with each other mentally they make money by having copies of priceless cultural works made back in time and hidden to sell later. For example, he has Leonardo Da Vinci paint six copies of the Mona Lisa. Although Savitar isn’t able to attempt his back-up plan – it sounds like it was inspired by Scaroth.

When All Else Fails – Reverse the Polarity of the Neutron Flow

In the season finale, as Cisco is trying to get the satellite and computer systems working after an explosion at Star Labs, he says, “Hey Wally, Can you reverse the polarity on the neutron flow?” This references the Third Doctor catch phrase to “reverse the polarity of the neutron flow”. It is a brilliant nod.

Paradoxes Take Time to Set

In The Flash, once Iris is saved, Cisco and Barry discuss that it will take time for the change to catch-up to them. This plot point gives Savitar a little bit of last-minute time to try and save himself. None of Savitar’s last-ditch efforts succeed, and he disappears from existence. In Doctor Who, especially during Matt Smith’s time as the Doctor – time continues to be malleable for a short period before becoming fixed. On the other hand, important details in time are often referred to as “fixed points” especially by David Tennat’s Doctor. This fluidity of time, where time paradoxes act more like a wave taking time to reach the shore rather than being instantaneous, is also seen in Legends of Tomorrow Season 2.

Doctor Who references in Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and The Flash are pretty common and range from actors from the British series appearing on the Arrowverse shows, to quotes, to plotlines. But I do not feel the Arrowverse is copying Doctor Who, rather, it adds to the fun.

The Flash Season 3 Review

  • Series: The Flash
  • Season: 3
  • Episodes: 23
  • Discs: 6
  • Cast: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, Keiynan Lonsdale, Tom Felton
  • Network:  CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Color, Widescreen

The third season of The Flash begins with Flashpoint, after his father is killed, Barry Allen travels back in time and saves his mother. He has three wonderful months with both his parents being alive, but eventually things don’t go so well, and Barry decides he’s made a mistake, so he has to reverse it. He releases the Reverse Flash whom he’s kept hostage and allows the death of his mother to happen. But when he returns to the new present things are different. Iris isn’t talking to her father, Joe. Cisco is extremely angry at Barry and grieving. Caitlin, unknown to the others at first, is developing cold powers and fears becoming Killer Frost. And at the Central City Police Department, Barry is now working under a new head of the CSI department, Julian Albert, a man that doesn’t like or get along with him.

At first, Barry is at a loss. But within an episode or two, Barry gets the team back together, and although things are not perfect, they are at least working together. It takes Cisco a little longer to come around (he lost his brother, Dante, as a result of Flashpoint), but he works with Team Flash anyway. Flashpoint has another effect – new metas are appearing in Central City, and the police forensic department is finding husks that are somehow linked to these new metas and a villain called “Alchemy”. Barry suddenly realizes that the new metas had existed in Flashpoint.

There’s more investigation, and it becomes apparent that Julian is Alchemy but he’s merely a harbinger and servant to Savitar – the God of Speed. Julian had become obsessed with an artifact known as The Philosopher’s Stone, but when he found it on a dig in India, his entire archaeological team died, and unknown to Julian, he became Alchemy. Julian is brought in to Team Flash and the fight against Savitar. Meanwhile, Caitlin’s cold powers become more obvious. At first, she takes a pair of meta-power damping bracelets to suppress her powers. Later, Cisco makes her a necklace. Wally also becomes Kid Flash – as he was in Flashpoint.

But once the Alchemy plot is resolved, and the fallout from Flashpoint largely settled, the main focus of the season becomes clear: Savitar. In an attempt to destroy The Philosopher’s Stone, Barry is thrust into the future and he sees Savitar murder Iris. Saving Iris becomes the focus of the rest of the season. Team Flash tries to change the future, by changing the other headlines Barry saw on a TV news broadcast when he traveled to the future. There are villains of the week to defeat, but the majority of the plot is devoted to preventing Iris’s death, and figuring out who or what Savitar is and how to stop him. Barry even travels to the future again, and discovers just how messed-up everyone is without Iris – and how broken, he, Barry, is. By the end of the season, it becomes clear who Savitar is: he’s a time remnant of Barry Allen – and essentially a time paradox.

The last two episodes of the season play like one big 2-hour finale, even though there is no “to be continued” title card at the penultimate episode. In the second-to-last episode, we see the events from a few months before – and Savitar kills Iris despite Team Flash finding a physicist, Tracy Brand to build a speed cannon to defeat him. But, it turns out to not be Iris but rather HR Wells, using a projector to hide his appearance and take Iris’s place. Tracy, who was starting to fall in love with HR was devastated. But now that Iris is alive, it changes things – and essentially Team Flash is waiting for the Time Paradox to catch up and for Savitar to disappear from reality. Savitar tries to save himself at the last minute – but Barry shows him mercy and even invites this other scarred Barry on to Team Flash.

This doesn’t go well, and Savitar kidnaps Cisco. But Cisco gets through to “Killer” Frost. At first, it looks like Caitlin will still choose Savitar, but in the end she doesn’t. Julian develops a cure for her, but she also chooses to return it to him, deciding to keep her frosty personality, but maybe without the “Killer” part. Barry has a final fight with Savitar, defeats him, turns away and is nearly killed – until Iris saves Barry by killing Future Evil (Savitar) Barry.

You’d think all would be well, but as Barry and Iris start to discuss wedding plans – a speed force storm erupts and threatens the entire city. Barry voluntarily goes into the Speed Force to fill the prison that Savitar left empty.

Season three of The Flash had it’s ups and downs. Although having Yet Another Evil Speedster seems like a bad idea – I had less of a problem with that than the main plot point being the threat to Iris’s life. The majority of the season seems to rest on the idea that no matter what Team Flash does – they can’t change things enough to save Iris – and the future is fixed. But, we know, Iris is a main character – and she’s not likely to really “die”. Throughout the history of DC Comics – Iris West is Barry Allen’s wife, not his girlfriend – and whether she is “Iris Allen” or “Iris West-Allen” she is his wife. So, despite this “big threat” that she will die – it’s an empty one, we know that she won’t. It is possible to make something interesting to see how she will survive, and HR’s sacrifice to save her is actually a surprise – but that she survives isn’t really a surprise.

That Savitar turns out to be Barry almost doesn’t work – it explains how Savitar knows everything Team Flash will do – he simply remembers what happened. But it’s actually “Killer” Frost who gives the game away – when she says everything Barry will say, as he says it, she’s actually giving Barry a big hint as to who Savitar is. Plus the Savitar-is-Barry plot actually mirrors the Wells/Thawne/Reverse Flash plot from season 1 – but this time in a sense we see the time travel paradox from Barry’s point-of-view, and Savitar is Barry as Reverse Flash, which in some ways works but in a lot of ways does not fit Barry’s character. Barry, despite his dark past, is one of the happiest characters in DC Comics. And, although it makes sense that in a fit of despair, after the loss of his father, he would go back in time and create Flashpoint, it doesn’t follow that he would then become Savitar, especially as Savitar originally exists in the Flashpoint Universe – which is the one where Barry’s parents are both alive and Barry doesn’t have super speed.

However, despite that, and season 3 of The Flash being darker than previous seasons, I still enjoyed it. Watching the development of Iris and Barry’s relationship is joyful. Wally West, especially once he becomes Kid Flash is awesome. I like Julian and HR as members of Team Flash. Caitlin’s story was well told – and I liked, a lot, that she was given agency throughout her story. She was able to choose if she’d be “Killer” Frost (though it’s Julian who causes the manifestation of her powers), and, more importantly, it’s Caitlin who decides not to take the experimental “cure” to remove her powers. It would have been so easy for someone to simply shoot the cure into her – but The Flash didn’t go that route. I also really liked Tracy Brand as a character, and I hope we see more of her in Season 4, but I doubt we will.

Follow this link to read My Review of Season 1 of The Flash.

Follow this link to read My Review of Season 2 of The Flash.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Prisoner’s Dilemma

  • Title: The Prisoner’s Dilemma
  • Series: Doctor Who Companion Chronicles
  • Discs: 1 CD
  • Author: Simon Guerrier
  • Director: Lisa Bowerman
  • Characters: Ace, Zara (guest), Seventh Doctor
  • Cast: Sophie Aldred, Laura Doddington (Zara)
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/19/2017

The Prisoner’s Dilemma is a Big Finish audio play in the Doctor Who Companion Chronicles series. It’s also a companion piece to the Peter Davison (Fifth Doctor) Key2Time mini-series of three audio plays. I haven’t listened to the other volumes of the Key2Time series, though I’m now thinking that I should order them. But anyway, this is meant to be a stand alone story, and I found that it did work that way. If anything it seemed to me to be a sequel to the Tom Baker (Fourth Doctor) Key to Time season.

This story is a bit confusing, and I did have to listen to it in my car twice, but at the same time, I found it to be a good story, if a bit unusual. The story has two episodes, and the first episode is told by Zara and in her point of view. The second episode is told by Ace and is in her point of view, though most of it takes place earlier than Zara’s section (the two sections overlap). Zara is from outside of time, a place she refers to as “The Grace” and she is an Elemental. The Grace also has two Guardians, equal and opposite. These Guardians will be familiar to Doctor Who television audiences, with both of them turning up in the Key to Time season with the Fourth Doctor (Tom Baker) and Romana I (Mary Tamm). The Black Guardian was also a major player during Peter Davison’s tenure as the Doctor. So, Zara’s introduction makes perfect sense, she is working for the Guardians – along with her sister. Both are brand-new to our universe. Both have an assignment – to each find three segments to the Key to Time to bring back to the Guardians so the Key can be assembled and the off-kilter balance of the universe put right.

The story starts with Zara and Ace each stuck in a jail cell someplace. Will they trust each other? Or, will they betray each other? Zara fills us in on her story – after literally appearing from nothing, she takes her first breath of air on a planet. And she’s immediately kidnapped by Zinc, who, along with his wife Magda, is investigating a strange new cult that’s taking over the galaxy. But that is a detail we learn later. All we know now is what Zara knows, she’s picked up from this rainy planet, and she’s suddenly somewhere else with Zinc.

Zara, not knowing any better, tells Zinc everything: about the key to time, the Guardians, her job, etc. Zinc probably doesn’t believe her and tries to figure out where his teleport bracelet has brought him because he is way off course. They go to the telescope room at the local museum. And Zinc abandons Zara. Zara, though miffed, thinks she’s learned a lesson about not trusting anyone. And she realizes the strange tickling in her nose is actually how she perceives being near a segment of the Key to Time. She follows the sensation to a huge lake on the surface of the planet Erratoon, which is a former prison planet and covered with a Geodesic Dome. She talks someone into taking her out on the lake in a boat, touches the surface of the water – and the entire lake disappears as it takes the form of a segment of the Key, which Zara puts in her satchel. Unfortunately, when the lake suddenly disappears, everyone on the lake dies. Anyone in a boat suddenly crashes down to the rock-hard surface of the lake bed and dies from the impact. Zara is arrested for “stealing” the lake.

Ace meanwhile finds herself in a jail cell with Zara. Zara doesn’t even tell her, her name. Ace, being Ace, decides immediately to escape. Zara warns her it’s not a good idea because if you try to escape you forfeit your right to a trial and your memories are stolen. Ace gets them out of the cell anyway, and they are both captured and mind-wiped.

Ace awakes, her memories scrambled but tells us what she remembers. She’d been with the Doctor, whom she now barely remembers, looking into a “Bonnie and Clyde” couple, Zinc and Magda, who had stolen a time ring and were now running all over space and time – pulling heists, setting up “nest eggs”, but also, at times, helping people and being heroes. She and the Doctor are investigating Zinc and Magda to see if they need to be stopped (their current investigation into the cult is trouble, a mystery that isn’t meant to be solved yet). But when Zinc goes off to grab a cultist to interview he simply disappears with no word. We, the audience, know he grabbed Zara and disappeared to Erratoon rather than back to his camp with Magda. Ace takes care of Magda, finding a shelter, making a fire, even preparing food from their supplies. Zinc returns and tells Magda that his trip wasn’t in vein – the planet he accidentally traveled to is rich in an ore needed for intergalactic travel than makes hyperspace much safer. The three end up on Erratoon and Ace is meant to fire a rocket at the geodesic dome, killing everyone on the planet and leaving it free for mining. Ace tries to find her way out of this, even telling a robot constable what will happen. But the robots only prosecute actual crimes. They don’t do any crime prevention. The rocket is set off, and the dome destroyed, but Ace finds herself in a hospital, under the care of The Doctor, but still with a rocky memory. It turns out that all the buildings on the planet were actually ships. When the dome breaks and everyone is expelled into space, they are scooped up by the buildings which are now spaceships. No one died. And now that the secret is out (all the meaningless tasks given to the prisoners weren’t so meaningless) a space dock will be built, people can come and go as they please, once the ore is found, everyone on the planet will be rich, and a new colony built. The Doctor even promises he has something called “a TARDIS” which can restore her memories.

This was an excellent story, well told and performed. I liked it, even though at times it was hard to tell what was going on because of the non-chronological nature of the telling of the story.

Recommended.

Find out more about Big Finish audios at their website: www.bigfinish.com

Click here to order The Prisoner’s Dilemma on CD or Download.

Note: No promotional consideration was paid for this review. I review because I enjoy it!