Flashpoint – Is there more to be revealed on the CW DC Shows?

I have now caught-up on the current seasons of all four DC CW shows. And I’ve noticed something. The Flash mentioned Flashpoint at the opening of the season, and Barry attempted to reverse Flashpoint. But his attempt failed. The Flash is now in an alternate reality – Cisco, as Vibe, is much more powerful than he was last year when he was first discovering his powers. In some ways it’s like that character has skipped ahead in time. And that’s not all – somehow, as a result of Barry messing with time – Cisco’s brother Dante is dead, killed by a drunk driver. Meanwhile, Caitlin is exhibiting cold powers – and she fears she is turning in to Killer Frost. And at the Central City Police Department a new guy is in charge of forensics and he’s a total, well, you know, to Barry. By the mid-season finale, we know a lot more about this guy who’s suddenly appeared from nowhere.

But it isn’t just The Flash that’s in a new reality. Arrow is also subtly changed. One thing I’ve noticed – last year on Legends of Tomorrow they visited future Star City – where they met future Green Arrow Connor Hawk (aka John Diggle Jr) and there was a skyscraper called Smoak Technologies. Due to Flashpoint, Diggle now has a son – John Jr, not a daughter, Sara. Felicity has also lost Palmer Tech – and in last night’s episode, Curtis mentioned he and Felicity were working on a start-up company (he mentions this as a cover for his Mr. Terrific duties to his husband) which Felicity seems to know nothing about. But easily, that could be the spark of an idea for her – especially if she pulls back from Team Arrow for other plot reasons. Flashpoint seems to be bringing the Arrow universe closer to the disaster we saw in last season’s Legends of Tomorrow. And let’s not forget – this season’s bad guys on Legends are the Triumvirate of Evil: Reverse Flash (from Season 1 of The Flash); Damien Darhk (from Season 4 of Arrow); and Malcolm Merlyn (aka “The Magician” in the comics, but he’s been hanging around Arrow since the beginning). I don’t think this is a coincidence. I think it’s all related to Flashpoint (which was a world-ending event in the comics and the animated movie).

I suspect since we also saw Damien Darhk in the Legends of Tomorrow last season; and he’s clearly working with the Reverse Flash this season, and later with Malcolm Merlyn. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think something is going on. I suspect time travel is most definitely involved. And I think the disappearance of Rip Hunter is also involved. I would love to see Rip return, maybe with his father, Booster Gold. I think the time paradoxes are only getting started and they will get more and more complex.  The four shows, but especially The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow, will have a bang-up complexly-related “super-crossover” feel by the end of this season. Maybe they will even change the “Supergirl is it’s own universe with no other Heroes” left over from last year when Supergirl was on CBS. Have I mentioned how that never made sense?

But I have to say, I love, just love, how all the DC shows are inter-related, just the way the comics are. Yes, you could just watch one or two of the shows – and you wouldn’t be lost. But when you watch all four, everything is connected. Also, just as is traditional for DC – all the Heroes know each other: they know each other’s real names; they know each others allies, friends and family; they know each other’s superpowers; and they work together when needed to overcome major threats (as in this year’s 4-part crossover event). That’s something that’s always been important in the DC Comics Universe. The heroes cooperate with each other. They don’t see each other as threats or rivals. When I first read Justice League International (later Justice League America / Justice League Europe) in the late 1980s and early 1990s – every hero, from the most powerful like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, to the ones who really had no powers at all, like Blue Beetle and Booster Gold were members of the Justice League. In between the two extremes were a lot of single power individuals such as Fire, Ice, Black Canary, Vixen – all of whom were female. There were many minorities in the League as well, including John Stewart – the Green Lantern at the time and an African American. And there were the magic users: Zatanna, Dr. Fate, etc. There was something for everyone, and a well-balanced League. Young Justice, the animated series, although it had a modern aesthetic and look, also reflected the width and breadth of the Justice League with many female and minority characters or both (Rocket and Bumblebee are both African American young women). The CW Shows have women and minorities on every show. And the women are not simply there as set dressing or to be rescued by the “male hero” – they are smart, educated, career-oriented women (reporter, scientist, computer expert), minorities have viable roles (engineer, army veteran), and Legends of Tomorrow has a balanced team of women and men with minorities on the team. Plus, you have to love a team of self-styled “screw-ups” who manage to be heroes, um, excuse me, Legends, anyway. The CW Network is doing a better job at this point of doing live action DC stories that Warner Brothers is doing with the films – though Suicide Squad was fun (though Arrow did a suicide squad storyline in it’s first or second season) and I have high hopes for Wonder Woman.

The Flash Season 2 Review

  • Series: The Flash
  • Season: 2
  • Episodes: 24
  • Discs: 6
  • Cast: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin, Keiynan Lonsdale
  • Network:  CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Color, Widescreen 

The Flash continues to be a highly enjoyable series. Season 2 brings in Earth-2 from the very beginning. Jay Garrick’s, who’s Golden-Age helmet had come through the time portal at the end of last season arrives in person, to warn Barry Allen and the others about Zoom – an evil speedster from Earth-2, who having conquered that world, and has plans to do the same to Barry’s Earth. Not to mention Zoom wants to steal Barry’s speed so he can go even faster.

Barry, Cisco, and Dr. Wells (from Earth-2) do eventually travel to Earth-2 – to save Dr. Wells’ daughter, Jesse, who has been kidnapped. The two-part Earth-2 episode is marvelous. Everything has a golden look, and the architecture and even set design has a marvelous Art Deco quality. While on Earth-2, Barry meets his doppleganger, also a forensic scientist for the police, but one with no powers who is married to Iris West – a police detective. That version of Barry does not get on at all with Iris’s father, Joe, a jazz singer. And that Barry’s mother, Nora, is still alive. Our Barry is brought to tears when he hears an answering machine message from his mother. But Cisco’s doppleganger is the evil meta – Reverb. And Caitlin also has an evil meta doppleganger – Killer Frost. the entire two-part episode is extremely well done and well constructed. It looks beautiful, and the characterization is wonderful.

That isn’t the only two-parter. This box set, unlike last year, includes both parts of the “Legends of Today”/”Legends of Tomorrow” crossover which has Team Flash working with Team Arrow, and introduces Hawkgirl (Kendra) and Hawkman, as well as the villain – Vandal Savage. It’s a backdoor pilot for Legends of Tomorrow but it works. I’ve already reviewed Legends of Tomorrow, so I won’t repeat myself here, but suffice it to say the two-part story was fantastic – and had some impressive special effects. It also shows just how dangerous Barry’s time travelling can be – something which the series will come back to later.

Season two of The Flash, alters between Barry and Team Flash tracking down and defeating meta-humans, often sent from Earth-2 by Zoom, and increasingly complicated personal relationships. And it’s the nitty-gritty of how these characters care about each other that makes the show really work. Barry and Iris also grow much closer together. Caitlin also grows close to Jay Garrick, even creating Volocity 9 a speed drug to help cure him of his illness and get his speed back. But this Jay has a dark secret, and it’s revelation is devastating to Caitlin. Meanwhile, Cisco discovers he is also a metahuman, with the ability to see visions of the present, past, and even sometimes – the future, if events involve a metahuman – he takes the name, Vibe. Cisco’s fear of his own power and eventual acceptance of it becomes another them of the season.

Once it’s revealed who Zoom really is, the season focuses on him, and his need to take Barry’s speed. When he kidnaps Wally West, Joe’s long-lost son, Barry chooses to give up his speed to Zoom to save Wally. This gives Barry a few episodes as a normal guy. Wells then says he can re-create the experiment that made Barry a speedster – but when he does, Barry disappears utterly. Wally and Jesse are both knocked out by the backlash of the experiment as well. But Barry isn’t dead – he’s in a Speed Force limbo – where he talks to everyone important to him – then returns, with his speed.

The final confrontation between Barry and Zoom is – wow – very much a lot to take in. I covered it in a review of The Flash season finale. Overall, Season 2 of The Flash was excellent, even better than Season 1 of the Flash, which I enjoyed very much. I highly recommend this show, which is still appropriate for all ages. It’s very much a must see show.

Legends of Tomorrow Season 1 Review (spoilers)

  • Series Title:  Legends of Tomorrow
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 16
  • Discs: 4
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Arthur Darvill, Brandon Routh, Victor Garber, Franz Drameh, Caity Lotz, Dominic Purcell, Wentworth Miller, Ciara Renée

Legends of Tomorrow is a team-up show that was spun-off mid-season from The Flash and Arrow. It features Brandon Routh as Dr. Ray Palmer (The Atom) and Sara Lance (White Canary) from Arrow, Dr. Martin Stein and Jefferson “Jax” Jackson (Firestorm) from The Flash, and also from The Flash Leonard Snart (Captain Cold) and Mick Rory (Heatwave). New to this series are time traveller, Rip Hunter, and Kendra Saunders (Hawkgirl). Hunter brings his time-ship, the Waverider and it’s A.I. computer, Gideon.

What makes Legends of Tomorrow different and interesting isn’t simply the characters – it’s that these characters are the “screw-ups”. They not only make mistakes – they frequently make things worse. Rip Hunter’s mission is to track down and kill Vandal Savage an immortal dictator from the future that killed his wife and child (and billions more people). Yet Rip is also on the run – because his mission isn’t sanctioned by the Time Masters he once served – they are actually after him for breaking the rules. Halfway through the season we discover the soldier, Chronos, who was chasing our characters through time is actually Mick Rory – who was captured by the Time Masters and brainwashed into being their killing machine. This means that when, during the first time you watch this series and you assume Chronos is tracking the Waverider using future technology – he’s actually able to track Rip and company because he remembers where they will be. This means the second time you watch this show, there’s an extra layer of meaning to what’s going on.

The first six or so episodes of this series are very episodic – Rip and his crew travel to different eras of time, trying to track down and eliminate Savage. Yet again – their plans seem doomed. Savage also has an intimate connection to Kendra (Hawkgirl) and Carter Hall (Hawkman). However, gradually the story becomes more connected and each episode ends with a “cliffhanger” that leads into the next episode – and this is where the show really picked up steam. The last four episodes are essentially one grand story – with revelations about the Time Masters – who, after all, are still using Rip Hunter.

The weakest part of season 1 of Legends of Tomorrow is Vandal Savage, and not simply because a immortal villain is a boring villain (after all how do you kill an immortal villain?) but because I just didn’t like how he was played. However, I liked the finale very much.

The best part of Legends of Tomorrow is the characters and the cast. Watching Arthur Darvill playing a time traveler again is a pure joy. The rest of the cast does an excellent job – and the writing takes the time to explore each of the characters – their backgrounds, their fears, and how they can become heroes despite their faults and doubts. So this is a show about very human “superheroes”. Watching Leonard Snart develop is especially a joy. The show is also well-written, and isn’t afraid to get into the occasional moral quandary about what they are doing. I recommend it highly.

The Flash Season 2 Finale Review

The season finale of The Flash ended in a shock in that Barry Allen, as we know him, no longer exists. Follow. Our Barry went into the Future then returned to slightly before he left. It was our Barry who ran in the opposite direction, stopping the magnetic ring of doom that would destroy the multi-verse, thus it was our Barry who was disintegrated in the Speed Force.

The Barry who destroyed Zoom and also ditched Iris was the second Barry, a copy, “created” by our Barry returning to the past before he left. It was this second Barry who traveled back to the Past to save Nora, Barry’s mother.  Second Barry rescued Young Barry and his father, as well as killing Reverse Flash outright and saving Nora.

But when Second Barry did that – you’ll notice that First Season Barry, who was watching disappeared. That is because First Season Barry – the one we’ve followed through two seasons of The Flash – no longer exists. As Zoom predicted Second Barry has now destroyed himself twice, as well as Zoom and Reverse Flash. This Second Barry is the only Speedster left, assuming he also didn’t wipe himself out of existence in a paradox.

Think about it – with Second Barry destroying Reverse Flash and saving Nora, that means young Barry was raised by Nora and Henry Allen. Nora never died. Henry was never accused of and found guilty of her murder. Young Barry was never sent to live with Joe West. Young Barry may have never even met Iris West, much less fallen in love with her. And, to make things worse – Young Barry would have never been driven to become a police officer – or with Joe West’s influence to not be a cop – to become a forensic analyst, a CSI. That Young Barry probably went to college, given his parents, but who knows what he studied – or if he even returned to Central City after college. There’s no reason to assume he’d become a CSI anyway. And he never became The Flash.

But it’s worse than that – because without Barry, What would have happened. Thrawn mentions Dr. Wells Particle Accelerator happening “15 years” later and he needs for it to happen earlier. Thrawn also rigged the explosion that created both the MetaHumans and The Flash. Did this never happen? Did it happen differently? Second Barry may have created Earth 2 where Barry has no powers, Caitlin and Cisco are “evil” – Killer Frost and Reverb, specifically, as well as giving rise to Zoom in the first place.

Also, don’t forget – in the finale of Season 1, Barry goes back in time to save his mother and stop Reverse Flash. Yet, in the house – he’s warned off, by himself. In Season 1, Barry heads the warning of, well, himself, and Nora dies.  Now, we have an alternate timeline, and a second Barry goes back in time, saves Nora, and Barry (our Barry) disappears.  What is going on?

I’ve seen the animated Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, which I’ve also reviewed, but I haven’t read the 6-book Flashpoint (and World of Flashpoint) series from DC Comics. However, with DC’s new Rebirth maxi-series picking up from Flashpoint, and the fairly consistent dropping of Flashpoint hints and references in CW’s The Flash, one thing’s for sure, next season is going to be very interesting.

The Flash (2014) Season 1 Review

  • Series: The Flash
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 23
  • Discs: 5
  • Cast: Grant Gustin, Candice Patton, Danielle Panabaker, Rick Cosnett, Carlos Valdes, Tom Cavanagh, Jesse L. Martin
  • Network:  CW (Warner Brothers Productions)
  • DVD Format: Color, Widescreen 

Of the three DC Comics television shows from last year, The Flash is the lightest, the most accessible, and the one I’d recommend to start younger children (10 and up) on the live action DC Universe besides the wonderful DC Animated Universe. Which is most definitely not to say this is a show only for children. But whereas Gotham is extremely dark, and Arrow was also dark last season, The Flash is bright and fun, as it should be, if you know the comics, both the Silver Age Flash and the Modern Flash, Wally West. Grant Gustin is a breath of fresh air as Barry Allen – he’s bright, talented, but also warm, caring, full of heart, and brings his bright light to everything in the show, despite the character’s somewhat dark back story. As always, Barry is a police forensic scientist, in this version, Barry usually introduces himself as “a CSI for the Central City PD”. This isn’t a tie-in to the popular CSI franchise, but rather Barry describing his job in a way the people he meets will understand. When Barry was 11, his mother, Nora, was murdered, his father was accused, tried, and put in prison for life for the murder, and Barry became the foster son of Joe West, a Central City police officer. Joe and Barry developed a strong father-son bond, though Barry also still cares very much for his imprisoned father, Henry (John Wesley Shipp). This tragedy drives Barry to be the best CSI he can be. Then he’s struck by lighting during the particle accelerator accident, and when he wakes he has super speed. Thus, as the Flash, Barry is also driven to help others and solve crimes.

But the particle accelerator accident didn’t simply make Barry the Flash – it also transformed some others into “meta humans”, people with powers. Although some meta humans, like Barry are good, many use their new powers for criminal activities. So Barry, and his friends at S.T.A.R. Labs, Caitlyn, Cisco, and Dr. Wells, find, fight, and contain these new super villains.

The first season of The Flash, successfully weaves together Barry’s life: his job as a forensic scientist, his quest to help others as the Flash, his work with S.T.A.R. Labs to find and stop meta humans, his relationship with his friends and family and how becoming the Flash does and doesn’t change things, and an arc-plot that’s so well-written you don’t really know where it’s going. Even if you’ve read The Flashpoint Paradox graphic novel or seen the Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox animated film based on the graphic novel, it’s still a question exactly how this particular version of the Flash will do the story. Because in anything based on at least DC Comics, each version of something will be slightly different – almost alternate universes. I enjoyed the development of the arc-plot.

The performances by the guest stars playing meta humans and other villains, including one guest appearance by Mark Hamill as the Trickster are excellent. Amanda Pays also appears twice, again playing Dr. Tina McGee, now of Mercury Labs. There are other numerous characters who appear: Captain Cold, Weather Wizard, Golden Glider, Mist, Heat Wave, Grood, etc – and all of them work, even Grood manages to not be completely silly. CW also brings characters from Arrow to The Flash for visits (and vice versa) and did a crossover episode (unfortunately the Arrow half is not included on the DVD set – to see it you also need to buy Arrow Season 3, which I recommend). I like, very much, that Warner Brothers is slowly but surely building up DC on our television screens – this year adds Legends of Tomorrow on CW as a mid-season show, and Supergirl on CBS at the end of October. There were also rumors last year that TNT would be doing a live action Teen Titans (possibly called Titans), but it seems to be stalled. I’d check at mid-season for an update. (By the way, feel free to follow me on Twitter @JackieOMoleski for updates, I retweet and post links to info about nearly anything DC Comics film and television related that I happen to find.) But that CW/Warners is smart enough to not keep The Flash isolated, but integrate it into a larger whole not only makes the series itself seem bigger – but it feels more like the comics, where there were references to other DC cities, locations, and characters frequently – and they had “team-up” issues, and all the DC superheroes were part of the Justice League and worked together there as well as the most popular characters having their own books.

Again, The Flash is an excellent series. I enjoyed year one very much, and I’m looking forward to year two. I highly recommend this show. I also recommend it for younger fans, ages 10 and up. The Flash is much lighter than Arrow, and much, much lighter than Gotham.

Felicity Smoak – Role Model for Modern Women and Girls

 

Felicty Smoak, the IT Girl on CW’s Arrow, is one of the most realistic portrayals of a woman who’s working in a traditionally male-dominated field, and the best portrayal of a “hacker”/IT Geek I’ve seen on television or in the popular media.

As a person, the fictional character of Felicity, is smart, nervous around the opposite sex, confident in her abilities, and talented.  She’s not perfect, but – unusual for the Super Hero / Comics genre – she’s not there simply to be rescued by Oliver Queen / The Arrow every week.

Unique to Felicity, unlike nearly every “Computer Geek” one sees on TV or in the movies – she isn’t entirely self-taught, and she doesn’t use her abilities like it was magic.  She has a college degree – from MIT, no less, one of the most difficult universities in the country to get in to and a university known for it’s rigorous curriculum.  You don’t party all the time and graduate from MIT – you just don’t.  I love that the writers and producers of Arrow gave Felicity a college degree.  In an era where having a university education is increasingly devalued, and even mocked – Arrow‘s heroine is college-educated.  I simply love that.  And she is a positive role-model for young girls that they can go to college or university, they can get an education, and they can succeed.

I also love that rather than using technology and computer science like magic (and ill-thought-out magic at that), in Arrow, Felicity explains what she’s doing.  Not only did she study computer science in school, but she went above and beyond and learned how to do additional things.  Felicity has practical skills alongside her education.  Yes, the way technology and Felicity’s skills are used to help Oliver sometimes bend credibility – but it is a superhero TV show.  I don’t expect the tech to be perfectly accurate.  But it’s nice to have the “techie” not be a geeky guy, nor someone who simply suddenly learned to hack for fun, but a beautiful, intelligent, young woman giving Oliver the advice and help he needs.  Oliver has few, if any, computer skills – Felicity backs him up with the skills she has.  Neither can do everything but they make for a good partnership.  John Diggle also helps, by providing not only military skills, knowledge, and experience – but often being the voice of reason between the three main characters.  If both Felicity and Diggle tell Oliver he’s wrong – he’ll re-think his plans.  And if Felicity criticizes Oliver – he will listen.

The other aspect of Felicity as hero is that what she does and who she is – is possible in the real world.  A young girl cannot grow-up to be Wonder Woman, or a Vampire Slayer, or any other super-human female hero.  A young girl cannot grow up to be Spiderman or Superman either.  And while it might be hard to study and get good grades and work hard to gain a scholarship to get into a university like MIT, it’s not impossible.  It’s difficult, yes, but not impossible.  And a young woman studying at MIT, make no mistake, is not going to find it easy to graduate either.  Top universities such as MIT have a rigorous curriculum, it is hard work.  No one gives you a college degree – you earn it.  University degrees are earned, step-by-step, day-by-day, class-by-class and there are no short cuts.  Not for a real degree. Later on in Arrow, Felicity remarks on how hard she worked simply to get a job in the IT department at Queen Consolidated.  And it is hard.  For women, a job in technology or science – any field dominated traditionally by men, it is incredibly hard to make it.  Women consistently also have to prove themselves and prove their abilities to others.  But it’s possible.  Which is why I think Felicity is a terrific heroine.  And why I think she’s one of the most inspirational women and role models for young girls.