The Flash Season 5 Review

  • Series: The Flash
  • Season: 5
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 5
  • Cast: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, Hartley Sawyer, Jessica Parker Kennedy
  • Network:  CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Color, Widescreen

This review contains spoilers for Season 5 of The Flash.

The mysterious young girl who appeared at the end of Season 4 of The Flash is Nora West-Allen, Barry and Iris’s daughter from the future. She’s traveled to the past to meet and spend time with her father who has been missing most of her life and to stop Cicada, a villain that the Flash never caught. To solve the mystery of Cicada, the team at S.T.A.R. Labs brings in Sherloque Wells from another Earth – the best detective in the multiverse. Sherloque is French, a good detective, and initially not good with people – he’s also been married seven times and has five ex-wives, so he likes being paid for his work so he can keep up with his alimony payments.

Season 5 has Nora building her relationship with her parents, she initially doesn’t get along with Iris but they work things out, and the season also has the season trying to stop Cicada. Sherloque tells them who Cicada is – but due to Nora’s interference in the timeline not only is this Cicada killing different victims – it’s a different person. It turns out a man named, Dwyer, who works in a chemical plant, became the guardian of a little girl named Grace after her parents were killed in an accident. Dwyer initially has no idea how to raise a child, but he grows to love Grace and tries to be a good parent to her. The night of the Enlightenment when Barry and Nora break up the satellite and sent dark-matter infused shards to Earth, Dwyer and Grace are at a street carnival. A dagger-shaped shard hits Dwyer and Grace is knocked on to the concrete and ends-up in a coma. Dwyer, with the help of a very prejudiced doctor, decides that meta-humans were to blame for Grace’s coma and her parents’ death and that all metas are dangerous and therefore evil. Dwyer decides that all meta-humans must die and becomes the serial killer, Cicada.

The season has Team Flash, including Sherloque, working to solve this mystery – Who is Cicada? How can they stop him? As in any long-form mystery, they gradually discover clues and information about the case. Cicada himself is a meta and using the dagger he can dampen the powers of other metas – this makes Barry and company helpless when they fight him. The season also has Cisco and Caitlyn developing a cure for meta powers. They insist the cure will not be used as a weapon, but that only people who choose to do so will cure their meta-human powers. Barry suggests using the cure on Cicada, but Cisco and Caitlyn insist they have to give Cicada a choice. They also discover that the reason Grace didn’t wake up from her coma is that she has a piece of the satellite embedded in her forehead, flooding her body with dark matter and making her a meta who can steal powers from other metas.

Team Flash is able to capture Cicada and offer him the cure. When they explain Grace is a meta, he agrees to take the cure if Grace gets it too. Dwyer also insists that the doctor he’s been working with administer the cure. But when they try, a second Cicada breaks into S.T.A.R. labs. She kills the doctor. Team Flash has to reset and figure out who this new Cicada is. Nora travels back to the future to speak to her up to now unseen partner – it’s Eobard Thawne who is on death row. Sherloque has been trying to solve the case of Nora West-Allen throughout the season, and when Nora is about to admit she’s working with Thawne, Sherloque interrupts her and tells the team she’s working with Thawne. Barry flips out and takes Nora back to the future. Iris and Ralph use a Time Bubble to travel to the future to talk to Nora and bring her back, but when she realizes Barry isn’t there – she gets so angry she uses Thawne’s last lesson and disappears into the Negative Speed Force. Back in 2019, she gathers together a group of young, female rogues and robs a military weapons research lab to steal a mirror gun that will destroy Cicada’s dagger.

Nora and Barry repair their relationship and the team refocuses on stopping Cicada II (a future version of Grace). Sherloque also meets and falls for Rene Adler, Earth 1’s version of Irene Adler (all his wives are Irene Adler’s from different Earths). Cisco meets a photographer in a bar named Kamilla and starts dating her. Joe West and DA Cecille Horton raise their new baby girl. Wally is in a few episodes at the beginning of the season, then goes on sabbatical in Tibet and isn’t seen again, though he’s mentioned a couple of times.

Team Flash discovers Cicada II has a weapon that will kill all the metas, not only in Central City but in the US. Sherloque sends Rene to his Earth to keep her safe. CCPD, under the direction of Joe West, organizes a mass distribution of the cure. Team Flash tries to stop Cicada and destroy the dagger, stop Cicada’s cure-bomb, and even convince Grace to take the cure – but the cure doesn’t work because of the dark matter shard in her head. They eventually wake up Grace and manage to stop her from becoming Cicada.

However, Barry also wants to stop Thawne and when the dagger is destroyed, instead of being led to his execution (in 2049), he escapes. Also, the timeline changes catch up to everyone and Nora is wiped from existence and the Crisis which had been predicted for 2024 is moved up to 2019. Barry Allen will disappear in the Crisis.

I really liked Sherloque Wells – he’s an element of lightness in what could have been a very depressing season. Nora is earnest, and makes a lot of mistakes – and she didn’t deserve her fate. I hope that’s reversed in next year’s crossover.

This season includes Elseworlds – a crossover that is so much fun it deserves its own review. After Elseworlds, we are promised that next’s year’s crossover will be Crisis on Infinite Earths. Crisis was a massive DC Comics crossover, the first of its kind in the industry, and a story in which heroes died and nothing was the same. Read my review of the graphic novel Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Read my Review of The Flash Season 1.
Read my Review of The Flash Season 2.
Read my Review of The Flash Season 3.
Read my Review of The Flash Season 4.

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Gotham Season 5 Review

  • Series: Gotham
  • Season: 5
  • Episodes: 12
  • Discs: 2 (Blu-Ray)
  • Cast: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, David Mazouz, Sean Pertwee, Robin Lord Taylor, Cory Michael Smith, Camren Bicondova, Morena Baccarin, Cameron Monaghan
  • Network:  FOX (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Blu-Ray, Color, Widescreen

The fifth and final season of Gotham does the “No Man’s Land” storyline from Batman comics. The title “No Man’s Land” even appears on-screen. After Jeremiah Valeska blew up the bridges leading out of Gotham – the city is cut off from “the mainland” and from any form of help or assistance from government or other sources. This is a little difficult to believe, but it does give the entire season a claustrophobic feel – as Captain Jim Gordon and the GCPD are the only ones holding the city together and trying to provide essentials like food, water, shelter, and medicine. Gotham is soon split into territories run by different gangs, so we do get to see brief appearances by groups such as The Mutants (even though in the comics they only appeared in Frank Miller’s Elseworlds graphic novel The Dark Knight Returns). Most of the short season focuses on a few groups: Sirens – run by Barbara Kean, City Hall – run by Penguin, and Edward Nygma (who is on his own but very important to the story). Other characters that we’ve met through the years on Gotham also make appearances. These appearances are integrated into the storyline and do not seem to be there simply for the sake of a character or actor appearing in the final season.

Barbara controls access to food and alcohol, and Penguin controls access to arms and bullets, even starting a bullet factory – so Capt. Jim Gordon has to work with them to get these “essentials”. Edward Nygma keeps waking up in strange places with no memory of how he got there or what he did. At first, he thinks the “Ed” (or Riddler) side of his personality is behind this. But we find out he’s being controlled by Hugo Strange, and behind him is Amanda Waller. Nygma discovers it was Ed who destroyed Haven, a building full of refugees – set up by Captain Gordon, with a rocket launcher. Hundreds of innocent women and children were killed by Ed’s actions. Nygma is disgusted when he realizes what he’s done, but discovers Hugo Strange literally put a chip in his head to control him and get him to do whatever he wanted. But it was Amanda Waller, a military agent, who gave the orders, including the order to destroy Haven. Waller’s ultimate plan is to use the military to completely destroy Gotham because she thinks the city isn’t worth saving. Waller also doesn’t care about the innocent civilians who suffer under her plan – even though she could have used the military to evacuate Gotham instead and then rebuild the city.

Waller also arranges to have Jeremiah Valeska escape from Arkham. Jeremiah immediately causes a lot of chaos and destruction. He is, though, dropped into a vat of chemicals at Ace Chemicals by Jim Gordon (Gordon didn’t push him in but he fell when he tried to push Gordon in). Jim also drives the truck loaded with chemical weapon bombs that will poison Gotham into the Gotham River. Waller also turns one of her mercenary troopers into the venom (a form of steroids) ingesting super-villain who tries to destroy the GCPD, and in particular, James Gordon so Gotham can be destroyed by General Wade. Wade initially arrives for “Reunification Day” and compliments Gordon on his holding Gotham together and using Wayne Enterprises technology to clean Gotham River water. But Wade has also been chipped by Waller, so instead of reporting that Reunification can go through, he orders that Gotham be completely destroyed with military bombs. The military begins to follow this order as well as landing on Gotham with tanks and hundreds of troops led by Bane.

During the course of the season, Capt. Jim Gordon works with Barbara, Oswald Cobblepot and Edward Nygma. This shaky alliance continues, though at times various players fall back to their resentments from issues they’ve had with each other in the past. But especially after he figures out what Strange and Waller did to him, Nygma works with Gordon and even forms an alliance with Penguin. Barbara and Gordon have a one night stand that results in Barbara getting pregnant. She tells this to Gordon when Lee Thompkins finally returns, having been missing for most of the season. Gordon and Thompkins also marry. Barbara and Jim Gordon will, ultimately, co-parent their daughter, Barbara Lee.

The season is very, very dark – and a lot of horrible things happen, as you may expect in a city under siege storyline. However, the penultimate episode, “They Did What?” actually both concludes the season and the series – and is positive and hopeful. I don’t want to spoil it. The final episode is set ten years after “He Did What?” and introduces Batman. Yes, Batman.

Even though parts of Season 5 of Gotham were extremely dark and difficult to watch, I did, ultimately like the season, and I think a big part of that was the episode “They Did What?” which did a very good job of concluding the season and the series. Characters we’ve followed for five years were allowed to follow their storylines and in the final episode, we see how they’ve become the characters we know from a more “standard” Batman universe. Gotham was developed with the premise, “What made Bruce Wayne, Batman? What was he like as a child/teenager?” and it succeeded in this. But Gotham also succeeded in telling the story of a city. It explained why the Gotham City of a more standard Batman universe is so messed-up and where the supervillains came from, especially the ones that seem to have almost supernatural powers. Yes, Gotham is a different take on Batman, and it really plays with timelines (especially introducing “No Man’s Land” and Bane before Bruce became Batman) but that also falls under the category of “What if…” What if Bruce didn’t just wander the world learning how to fight, but he was pushed into leaving Gotham? What if there was a real reason that there were so many weird, superpowered, criminals in Gotham beyond just “they are there because of Batman”?

Overall, I really liked the series of Gotham. The entire cast was brilliant – especially Sean Pertwee (Alfred Pennyworth), Camren Bicondova (Selina Kyle), Cory Michael Smith (Edward Ngyma) and Robin Lord Taylor (Oswald Cobblepot). Not that the rest of the cast weren’t brilliant too – I loved Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, Chris Chalk as Lucius Fox, David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne and Ben McKenzie as Jim Gordon – but Gotham was in many ways all about the villains. The villains and a few brave souls (Bruce, Alfred, Jim, Harvey, and Lucius) that decided to fight them. The series is definitely worth watching, on Blu-ray if you can (I replaced my first and second season DVD copies with Blu-rays to get the full effect of the excellent filming, direction and use of widescreen techniques.)

Read my Review of Season 1 of Gotham.
Read my Review of Season 2 of Gotham.
Read my Review of Season 3 of Gotham.
Read my Review of Season 4 of Gotham.

Book Review – Titans vol. 4: Titans Apart

  • Title: Titans vol. 4: Titans Apart
  • Author: Dan Abnett
  • Artists: Paul Pelletier, Tom Grummett, Tom Derenick, Andrew Hennessy, Cam Smith, Mick Gray, Trevor Scott, Adriano Lucas, Josh Reed, Carlos M. Mangual, Travis Lanham
  • Line: Rebirth
  • Characters: Titans, Wally West, Nightwing (Dick Grayson), Wonder Girl (Donna Troy), Arsenal (Roy Harper), the Justice League
  • Publication Date: 2018
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 08/31/2019

**Spoiler Alert** Titans vol. 4 Titans Apart picks up where the previous volume left off. After the near disasters of the previous volume, the Justice League arrives at Titans Tower and grounds the team, telling them they are no longer operational. Everyone goes their separate ways. Donna is taken to the Watchtower satellite and placed under house arrest. Wally moves into a new apartment and gets some help from Dick Grayson with his move. Only Roy Harper, Arsenal, ignores the order to stand down, launching a one-man war on drugs, especially a new designer street drug called Bliss.

Roy goes after the drug dealers, suppliers, and labs – and runs into his old girlfriend, Cheshire. She saves his rear during a firefight and explains she’s working for a consortium of families who lost love ones to drugs. Together Cheshire and Roy take down an Intergang distribution site and lab that is producing a knockoff of Bliss and even find a sample of the original drug. Heading to Roy’s apartment, they celebrate with some pizza and then sleep together.

Roy had also been in contact with Donna by phone since she’s under guard in the Watchtower. But when Cheshire shows up, Roy gently tells Donna he thinks it isn’t good for her to continue to be in contact with him. This has more to do with Roy hanging out with his ex-girlfriend, Cheshire, than his sudden disinterest in Donna. Donna, unfortunately, thinks that Roy might have slipped back into his drug addict ways while trying to take down dealers.

Roy wakes up, to find Cheshire and the sample gone – and realizes he’s been dosed with Bliss. Roy also realizes there is something far more dangerous going on than a new street drug. Unfortunately, when he calls Donna, she is more convinced than ever that he’s, well, taking drugs. Donna, to her credit, tells Batman and Wonder Woman what Roy told her, but of course, they don’t believe her and Batman even insists he’s done a sweep with Watchtower equipment and found nothing.

Meanwhile, we find out Mallus, the intelligent gorilla and Brain – the hyperintelligent brain in a jar, are behind Bliss. The drug forms a gestalt or cloud mind that Brain taps into to raise his intelligence even more. Brain wants to ascend, so he won’t be dependent on his life support unit. Mallus (the French hyper-intelligent gorilla) cares for Brain and tries to help him through the pain.

As Brain grows ever more intelligent, he also figures out how to control the weather and sends storms and disasters all over the world. The Justice League responds, but the storms are traps keyed to each member of the League and meant to destroy them. Donna t first tries to convince Batman that the storms prove Roy was right. When Batman insists the storms are random, Donna leaves the Watchtower. Brain then organizes an electronic break-in of the Watchtower systems and an attack on Batman.

Dick and Wally are initially sent by Batman to bring Roy in to get him help. However, especially once Donna arrives, the other three Titans realize Roy was right in the first place. They storm the hideout belonging to Mallus and Brain. All the time, Brain is getting more and more intelligent and seems to be attaching himself from Mallus, his caregiver and friend.

The four Titans fight Brain’s robot defenders, successfully. But when they are attacked again, they have more trouble getting through the fight. They run into Mallus and convince him to help them to save Brain. Mallus, with help from the Teen Titans, is able to defeat Brain, who goes back to his normal hyper-intelligent self. When the Justice League arrive, again, the Titans point out that, first of all, Roy was right, there was a major threat brewing, and secondly the Titans handled it just fine without their mentors and they deserve to be back on active duty.

I liked this issue of Titans. It’s really about young adults coming out from underneath their “parents” (mentors) shadows. And it’s Roy, who doesn’t have a mentor any more, who ends up pushing the others to independence and to insisting that their famous parents treat them as adults. Also, despite the “Titans Apart” title, this book is really about the Titans coming together as friends first, and as a team second, and I liked that very much. Titans vol. 4 Titans Apart is a very enjoyable read and I highly recommend it.

Titans Season 1 (DC Universe)

  • Series Title: Titans
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 11
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: DC Universe (Warner Brothers)
  • Cast: Brenton Thwaites, Teagan Croft, Anna Diop, Ryan Potter
  • DVD: Widescreen Blu-Ray (R1, NTSC)

This review includes spoilers for the first season of Titans.

One thing that I demand from films, especially films adapted from other media is that they should be able to stand on their own – the audience should not have to “pull knowledge” from other sources to understand the film. For television series, this “rule” can be relaxed a bit since there is more time for the plot and characters to develop and if the audience is patient, everything will eventually make sense. I found that with Titans, even though I liked the show, it really depends on “outside knowledge” – it helps a lot if you’ve read at least some of the Titans (or Teen Titans) graphic novels (or soft books) or at the very least watched the animated series Teen Titans. The series begins with Rachel Roth (Raven) experiencing “weird stuff” and having no idea what’s going on, and Kory Anders waking up after a car accident having no memories at all. And Dick Grayson has quit being Robin and is a police officer in Detroit. So you have a character who has no idea what is happening to her, an amnesiac, and a guy who no longer wants to be a superhero because he’s disgusted with it – leading a superhero series. That would be confusing for some viewers, and others might not like the “but they aren’t acting like superheroes” thing. I found it an intriguing premise, plus the show does move along extremely quickly and there is a lot of development in the plot and characters over the short length of the show. This is a graphic novel for TV.

The first episode focuses on Rachel and to a lesser extent, Kory. Rachel seems to be developing some type of powers, something she doesn’t understand, and something that terrifies her mother. When her mother is murdered in front of her, Rachel runs away and ends up on the streets in Detroit. A homeless food kitchen offers to take her to a youth shelter, but she is spooked and throws a rock at a police car. This gets her arrested and she’s introduced to Detective Dick Grayson. Dick tries to help her, but Rachel, for perfectly understandable reasons – is suspicious. Dick’s called away and while he’s gone, another cop kidnaps Rachel.

Meanwhile, Kory wakes up after a car accident with no memory. The driver of the car is dead, and no sooner does she wake up than another car shows up, and shoots up the crashed car. Kory out of instinct raises her hand and burns the shooters up with bursts of light and heat from her hand. Kory doesn’t understand this but finds a hotel key in her purse. She goes to the hotel and finds out she has the entire penthouse. Slowly Kory starts to figure out a few things, and she realizes she needs to find Rachel, to protect her.

Dick realizes that Rachel’s been kidnapped and goes to rescue her. Kory also arrives and helps. they rescue Rachel and try to figure out what’s going on, including visiting Rachel’s home in Traverse City, Michigan, Dick finds out Rachel’s mom was murdered, something she had mentioned in her initial interview. Dick, Kory, and Rachel discover some mysterious organization is after Rachel. Dick then takes Rachel to his friends Hawk and Dove (Hank Hall and Dawn Granger) a couple who are superheroes and old friends of Dick’s. Hank, however, is suffering from the physical effects of his previous football career and being a superhero. Dawn is trying to get him to retire. They are meant to stop one last gang – gun runners, then move to Minnesota to retire. The Organization sends “Nuclear Family” after Rachel. During the fight, Dawn is tossed off a roof. Rachel also thinks Dick was going to abandon her with Dawn and Hank. Kory leaves with Rachel. Dawn ends up in a coma in intensive care. Hank, understandably, isn’t happy about this.

Kory and Rachel leave, and at a skating ring Rachel meets Gar and they form an immediate friendship. Dick arrives too and they get four motel rooms. But when the Nuclear Family attacks again Rachel simply runs into the woods. She runs into Gar and finds out he can transform himself into a tiger. He introduces her to the Doom Patrol. But when their head scientist wants to do experiments on Rachel, Gar stands up to him. Rachel’s powers start to get out of control, but Dick and Kory arrive. They leave the Doom Patrol’s mansion, and Gar joins the team. Personally, I felt this episode was more an introduction to the Doom Patrol, another DC Universe series, than really an episode of Titans. It didn’t seem to be a backdoor pilot because it was clear the Doom Patrol had been operating for a while, but on the other hand, it was definitely meant to get the audience to watch the next series on DC Universe, which happened to be Doom Patrol.

After the Doom Patrol incident, Dick, Kory, Rachel, and Gar form a solid team. Dick is able to find the “head” of the Organization, Dr. Anderson, when the capture the Nuclear Family after one of their attacks. The Nuclear Family literally has their heads blown-up by Dr. Anderson. But Anderson says he and Dick will be killed by the Organization. Dick fights off a team of fighters well, and Jason Todd shows up, dressed as Robin, to help him out. They go to a safe house and catch up on family business. Dick has Kory bring Rachel to the safe house. Dick also has “rescued” Dr. Anderson and preventing him from killing himself. They try interviewing him and he insists he will only talk to Rachel. Dick is hesitant but finally relents. Dr. Anderson tells Rachel her mom – her real mother is still alive and is being held at a private asylum. The team debates what to do.

Rachel and Gar run off to rescue her mom. They are captured. Dick and Kory discover Rachel and Gar are missing and head to the asylum to rescue them. They are also captured. Dick, Kory, and Gar are tortured, while Dr. Anderson “interviews” Rachel and tries to convince her that her powers can be used for good. Rachel, to her credit, realizes he’s lying. But earlier he had cut his own throat and Rachel had used her powers to heal him – she takes it back and he dies. She takes keys and goes to rescue her friends and her mother – having seeing the torture of her team on Dr. Anderson’s monitors. Rachel with help from her team as she rescues them one by one, succeeds, but at a high cost. Kory because of the torture starts to remember who she is and her mission. Gar during his rescue turns in to a tiger and attacks and bites the man in a lab coat who was torturing him with whips and electric shocks. He’s shocked that he bit someone (mauled and bit them to death). Dick is put through drug-induced psychological torture – when they are leaving his fights with security guards are considerably more violent than they need to be. Dick also has Kory blow-up the building. They do rescue Rachel’s mother though.

Rachel’s mother has a house in Ohio and says they can stay there. Dick decides to return to his job as a police officer in Detroit. At first, everything seems OK in Ohio, but then strange things begin to happen. Soon we find out Rachel’s birth mother isn’t the innocent she pretends and she’s working for Trigon (Seamus Dever) though the series doesn’t quite tell you who he is. Kory’s memory returns and she takes Dick to her invisible space ship. They use it’s computer banks to find out who Kory is and her mission. She is Koriand’r from Tamaran. Her planet names Rachel or Raven the “destroyer of worlds” stating she will be the door that allows a being from another dimension to return. This being will destroy Earth and continue on destroying worlds until it reaches Tamaran and covers Kory’s home in darkness. Kory was sent to kill Raven to prevent this disaster from happening.

Dick and Kory head back by car to the house to talk to Raven, when the car dies. They try to get back to the house, but it’s hidden by a force field. Also, all phone communication is down. Dick runs at the force field and gets through. Meanwhile, Rachel’s mom has poisoned Gar, but she tells Rachel he’s sick, and she needs to use her powers to heal him. Gar is coughing up blood. When Rachel can’t cure him, her mom convinces her to bring her father across because his powers will cure Gar. He does, but he’s also very dangerous. Dick gets into the house but is immediately overtaken by a hallucination. Unfortunately for Dick, he never seems to realize that everything he is experiencing is a hallucination and he gives in to his darker nature – he’s overtaken by Trigon. The series ends on a cliffhanger of Dick being in Trigon’s thrall. There is a tag scene in the ending credits, wait for it!

I did like Titans a lot. It is a good show, with great acting. The series moves quickly. I was glad I’d been reading the Titans Rebirth series and that I’d seen some of the animated series because I was familiar with the characters and knew who they were and their basic plots. One episode I didn’t mention was “Hank and Dawn” which fills in the background of Hawk and Dove as Hank thinks back on his own history while observing Dawn in her coma. Also, Raven tries to psychically contact Dawn during her coma, which does eventually wake her up. When Dawn awakes – she tells Hank they have to find Jason Todd. Hank’s answer is: Who’s Jason Todd?

I liked Titans and I plan on getting the second season whenever it’s available as well as watching the other DC Universe series (Doom Patrol, Swamp Thing, and Young Justice). But I don’t like that the series is on yet another streaming-only channel. This means I can’t get it. I live in a rural area with satellite internet and it is physically impossible to do streaming. The satellite TV system blocks all streaming services by capping data downloads. The nickel-and-diming effect of subscribing to half a dozen streaming services is also a concern for a lot of people I know who are getting tired of literally having to pay a streaming service fee for every show (service) they want to watch. I just end up waiting for the shows produced by any streaming service to show up on DVD or Blu-ray eventually which is usually a 12-18 month wait or more. However, I liked Titans and I will be waiting for the Blu-Ray set for Season 2. I also highly recommend this series. It has a fair amount of violence and some off-screen implied sex, so I’d classify it an Age 15+ series.

 

Death in Paradise Season 3 Review

  • Series Title: Death in Paradise
  • Season: 3
  • Episodes: 8
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: BBC
  • Cast: Kris Marshall, Danny John-Jules, Gary Carr, Sara Martins, Don Warrington
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD (R1, NTSC)

This review includes spoilers for Season 3 of Death in Paradise.

Death in Paradise Season 3 opens with quite a surprise. DI Richard Poole returns to Saint Marie from a trip to the UK, only to be murdered during a reunion with friends from his university days. DI Humphrey Goodman is sent to replace Poole and solve his murder. Initially, Camille, Dwayne, and Fidel have no idea what to make of Humphrey – he’s clumsy, disheveled, and disorganized, far different from the straight-laced DI Poole. But Humphrey wins them over by solving the murder of their former DI.

Over the season, I found that I really liked DI Goodman, though it takes a few episodes to get used to his style. Unlike Poole, Humphrey throws himself into island life – trying the local food and drink, spending time off the clock with his colleagues at Camille’s mother’s bar,  wearing more appropriate clothing for the warm weather. He was also married, though in the episode where Humphrey is introduced his wife leaves him a message on his answering machine that she isn’t coming to Saint Maire and she wants a divorce. When she shows up at the end of the season, to ask Humphrey if he wants to “make another go of it”, it’s Humphrey who realises he’s grown over the last year, yet despite her complaints of their marriage being stagnant it’s Sally who hasn’t grown and isn’t willing to try change and new things.

Death in Paradise is also a cozy-style mystery program, as such the detective solves murders by figuring things out in a light bulb moment. DI Goodman still does this, but we some attempt by the team to use forensics, and to interview witnesses. Yet the cases always end with Humphrey having that “I’ve got it!” moment, gathering all the suspects together, and exposing the murderer. Still, I found I enjoyed Season 3 and that after a few episodes, I really liked DI Humphrey Goodman. In many ways, he’s more sympathetic than Poole, at the very least Humphrey tries to fit in with the local culture and his colleagues without giving up who he is. This series is recommended, especially for viewers who enjoy cozy-style mysteries.

Read my Review of Death in Paradise Season 1.

Read my Review of Death in Paradise Season 2.

Death in Paradise Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Death in Paradise
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 8
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: BBC
  • Cast: Ben Miller, Danny John-Jules, Gary Carr, Sara Martins, Don Warrington
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD (R1, NTSC)

The second season of Death in Paradise is better than the first. The crimes are darker and more complex, and there’s more character development. New father, Fidel, is studying for his sergeant’s exam, which he passes in the final episode of the season. DI Richard Poole and Camille start to have feelings for each other but they ignore them. “Saint Maire” is beautiful as always. The cases involve both residents of the island and tourists.

However, this is still a lightweight series, and almost in the “cozy” style than a procedural. Poole, Camille, and Fidel and Dwayne solve cases by finding the one detail that doesn’t fit. It makes for a diverting hour of television – but it’s not earth-shattering, and the series could do better. In the last episode, Poole is sent back to the UK escorting a prisoner. Camille, Fidel, and Dwayne worry he won’t return to Saint Maire, but of course, he does. And again, the cases are interesting, but at times they are flat.

I do like the cast and characters though, and it’s nice to have a British series with people of color in starring roles who aren’t stereotypes. And the Island itself (actually Guadalupe in the French Carribean) is beautiful. I just wanted a bit more to this series. Still, recommended when you’re in the mood for something light and diverting.

Read my Review of Death in Paradise Season 1.

Death in Paradise Season 1 Review

  • Series Title: Death in Paradise
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 8
  • Discs: 2
  • Network: BBC
  • Cast: Ben Miller, Danny John-Jules, Gary Carr, Sara Martins, Don Warrington
  • DVD: Widescreen DVD (R1, NTSC)

Spoilers for the first season of Death in Paradise

When the British DI in charge of the Honoré Police Station is murdered, uptight British DI Richard Poole is sent from London to Saint Maire a formerly French Carribean island to investigate. Poole doesn’t like the sun, sand, surf, or food. But he’s also a brilliant detective who is excellent at finding the one clue that will help solve the case. In the first episode, a locked room mystery where a man is murdered inside a locked panic room, Poole proves the man was alive when the door was opened and he was killed by a corrupt police officer. This leads to Poole being invited to stay. Also, one of his suspects turns out to be an undercover policewoman, who is then permanently assigned to Honoré Police Station. Two long-time Honoré police officers round out the cast: Officer Dwayne Myers and Officer Fidel Best. The police commissioner from Guadalupe also makes regular appearances.

Every episode of Death in Paradise includes a seemingly impossible murder, yet Poole and in the later episodes the rest of the Honoré police department are able to solve them. Poole, an obsessive man, often notices tiny details about a crime scene, the victim, or a situation in the crime that doesn’t make sense. At first, his fellow police officers are inclined to disregard this “one little piece” that doesn’t fit. But as Poole solves case after case based on the small detail, the other officers start to realize it can be important. Watching Fidel, Dwayne, and Camille grow is fun, though I felt there could have been more character development. Poole also slowly starts to adapt to the Island lifestyle, though by the last episode in the season he is still wearing his expensive and totally inappropriate London suits and complaining about the heat.

The scenery in Death in Paradise is beautiful. Saint Marie is a fictional island, but the show is filmed in Guadalupe in the French Carribean. The sunsets, beaches, water, etc, are beautiful. I liked Death in Paradise but I didn’t love it. The cases didn’t feel complex enough, and Poole’s methods of solving cases had more in common with Columbo than a typical British procedural. On the other hand, Poole is played by Ben Miller of Primeval and Officer Dwayne Myers is played by Danny John-Jules (Cat) of Red Dwarf and it’s great fun to see them both again. Also, it’s impressive to see a British show where the regular cast is mostly people of color. Poole also stands out like a sore thumb and is very much a fish out of water. In my opinion, more could have been done with that, but I’ll take what I can get. Overall, Death in Paradise is a lightweight mystery, enjoyable, but not Earth-shattering.