REVIEW: ARROWVERSE – CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS

Starring

Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Chyler Leigh (Not Another Teen Movie)
Katie McGrath (Jurassic World)
Jesse Rath (The Howling Reborn)
Nicole Maines (Bit)
Azie Tesfai (Superstore)
Lamonica Garrett (The Last Ship)
David Harewood (Homeland)
Stephen Amell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: OOTS)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
Tom Cavanagh (Yogi Bear)
Katherine McNamara (Shadowhunters)
Ruby Rose (The Meg)
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Camrus Johnson (Luke Cage)
Candice Patton (The GUest)
Dominic Purcell (Prison Break)
Matt Ryan (Layer Cake)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Hartley Sawyer (The Young and the Restless)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Rick Gonzalez (Reaper)
Juliana Harkavy (Last Shift)
Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas 2006)
Jes Macallan (Kiss Me)
Nick Zano (2 Broke Girls)

Stephen Amell in Supergirl (2015)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf)
Elizabeth Tulloch (THe Artist)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)
Osric Chau (2012)
Erica Durance (Smallville)
Burt Ward (Batman 60s)
Robert Wuhl (Batman 1989)
Wil Wheaton (The Big bang Theory)
Alan Ritchson (Titans)
Curran Walters (Titans)
Russell Tovey (Being Human)
Tom Welling (Smallville)
Kevin Conroy (Batman: TAS)
Jonathan Schaech (Prom Night)
Wentworth Miller (Underworld)
Cress Williams (Reign of The Supermen)
Ashely Scott (Birds of Prey)
Stephen Lobo (Painkiller Jane)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash 90s)
Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers)
Melanie Merkosky (An Eye for Beauty)
Ezra Miller (Batman V Superman)
Reina Hardesty (The Honor List)
Eileen Pedde (Dark Angel)
Brec Bassinger (47 Meters Down: Uncaged)
Yvette Monreal (Faking It)
Dereak Mears (Friday The 13th)
Teagan Croft (Titans)
Tom Ellis (Lucifer)
Minka Kelly (Friday Night Lights)
Anna Diop (US)
April Bowlbry (Two and a Half men)
Diane Guerrero (Justice League vs Fatal Five)
Joivan Wade (The First Purge)

LaMonica Garrett in Supergirl (2015)To prepare for the coming Crisis, the Monitor recruits Oliver Queen and sends him on missions to collect various items. He also retrieves the cadaver of Lex Luthor and revives him. Barry Allen and Iris West-Allen learn that the Crisis date has moved up to December 2019 and that to save billions, the Flash must die.To learn more about what happens to him, Barry travels to Earth-3 to see Jay Garrick and Joan Williams, who have been tracking antimatter signatures across the multiverse. They send Barry’s mind forward in time, causing him to see billions of timelines where the multiverse is destroyed and the one where he dies saving it.Tyler Hoechlin, Brandon Routh, Melissa Benoist, Grant Gustin, and Ruby Rose in Supergirl (2015)Meanwhile, on one of his missions, Oliver witnesses the destruction of Earth-2 from an anti-matter wave. Back in Star City, William Clayton, Connor Hawke, and Mia Smoak mysteriously time travel from 2040 to the present, while Oliver and John Diggle learn that Lyla Michaels has been working with the Monitor. Minutes before the Crisis begins, Nash Wells is teleported into a chamber under Central City after being promised a new life. At the start of Crisis, red skies loom over Central City and Lian Yu, where Lyla, now a “Harbinger of things to come”, collects Oliver and Mia.Tyler Hoechlin and Grant Gustin in Supergirl (2015)On an unspecified Earth, the skies turn red over Freeland, causing Jennifer Pierce’s powers to adversely react and tear her between her Earth and those of two of her alternate counterparts. As the Pierce family and Peter Gambi try to bring her back, the antimatter wave overtakes them while Jefferson Pierce is teleported away.Brandon Routh, Audrey Marie Anderson, Caity Lotz, and Grant Gustin in Supergirl (2015)As the Crisis begins, the antimatter wave destroys countless parallel universes. Meanwhile, on Earth-38, Brainiac 5 detects the antimatter wave approaching Argo City, prompting Kara Danvers to warn her mother Alura Zor-El, her cousin Clark Kent, and his wife Lois Lane. Clark and Lois narrowly send their son Jonathan off into an escape pod just as the wave wipes out Argo. Across Earth-1, Harbinger brings Barry, Kate Kane, Sara Lance and Ray Palmer to Earth-38. While Harbinger also rescues the Kents from Argo, Alura was not as fortunate.Tyler Hoechlin, Elizabeth Tulloch, and Ruby Rose in Supergirl (2015)Harbinger briefs the gathered heroes on the threat of the Anti-Monitor as the Monitor raises a quantum tower to impede the antimatter wave while the DEO and Lena Luthor work to evacuate the inhabitants of Earth-38 to Earth-1. Brainy locates Jonathan’s pod on Earth-16, so he, Lois, and Sara leave retrieve him while the others stay behind to fend off the Anti-Monitor’s forces. In preparation for his death, Oliver passes the mantle of Green Arrow to Mia. When he learns Barry is fated to die however, he argues with the Monitor over the deal they made last year. The heroes make their stand at the tower and fend off an army of shadow demons until the Monitor teleports them off-world, deeming the battle to be lost. Refusing to leave, Oliver temporarily nullifies the Monitor and stays behind to ensure the exodus succeeds. Back on Earth-1, Lois’ team returns with Jonathan before the Monitor brings a dying Oliver to say good-bye, commenting that this was not how he was supposed to die. Nash, now a “Pariah” for releasing the Anti-Monitor, appears and announces that events have changed and everything is doomed.Brandon Routh in Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two (2019)With the Earth-1 Legends unavailable, Harbinger travels to Earth-74 to recruit Mick Rory so the heroes can use his Waverider as their base of operations. In the wake of Oliver’s death, which he cannot undo because of the Anti-Monitor’s growing power, the Monitor consults the Book of Destiny and learns of seven Paragons who could turn the tide. Four of them are Kara, the “Paragon of Hope”; Sara, the “Paragon of Destiny”; the “Paragon of Truth”, another Superman who has suffered “more than any mortal man”; and the “Paragon of Courage”, who is described as the “Bat of the Future”. Clark, Lois, and Iris locate the second Superman on Earth-96, though Lex uses the Book of Destiny to mind-control Clark-96 until Lex is knocked out by Lois.Tom Welling in Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two (2019)Kara and Kate travel to Earth-99, where the latter fails to recruit an elderly crippled Bruce Wayne, who became a killer. Bruce is in turn accidentally killed in a heated confrontation with Kate and Kara. Elsewhere on Earth-18, Sara, Barry, Mia, and John Constantine take Oliver’s body to a Lazarus Pit in an attempt to resurrect him, but the accumulating antimatter across the multiverse prevents them from bringing his soul back. Back on the Waverider, the Monitor tasks Ray with building a “Paragon detector”, which identifies Kate as the true “Paragon of Courage”. Unbeknownst to everyone, Harbinger is secretly contacted by the Anti-Monitor.Cress Williams in The Flash (2014)With Cisco Ramon’s help, Ray’s “Paragon detector” identifies Barry as the “Paragon of Love”, J’onn J’onzz as the “Paragon of Honor”, and Ivy Town scientist Ryan Choi as the “Paragon of Humanity”. Iris, Ray, and Ralph Dibny attempt to recruit a reluctant Choi, who eventually complies when Iris assures him that ordinary humans can be heroes too. After the Monitor restores Cisco’s powers, he, Barry, and Caitlin Snow meet up with Pariah at the Anti-Monitor’s chamber beneath Central City, where they find an anti-matter cannon powered by the Flash of Earth-90. When Cisco frees Barry-90, the cannon goes critical, so Pariah recruits Jefferson from his recently-destroyed Earth to contain the energy.Brandon Routh, Cress Williams, Osric Chau, Grant Gustin, and Hartley Sawyer in The Flash (2014)Barry-1 volunteers to destroy the cannon, which would result in his prophesied death. However, Barry-90 stops him, claiming the Monitor didn’t specify which Flash would die in the Crisis and takes Barry-1’s place. Meanwhile, Constantine, Mia, and Diggle visit Lucifer on Earth-666 to get his help in entering Purgatory to retrieve Oliver’s soul. Before they can leave, Jim Corrigan appears and bestows the Spectre’s power on Oliver. He accepts, and Constantine’s team is returned to the Waverider without him. While the heroes regroup, the Anti-Monitor sends a brainwashed Harbinger to kill the Monitor so he can absorb his power and finish destroying the multiverse. Before the remaining heroes and Earth-1 are destroyed, Pariah sends the Paragons to the Vanishing Point to keep them safe, where they witness Lex replace Superman-96 with himself using a page from the Book of Destiny.Melissa Benoist and Ruby Rose in The Flash (2014)A flashback to the planet Maltus 10,000 years ago shows Mar Novu experimenting with time-travel to witness the birth of the universe, only to accidentally end up in the antimatter universe and reveal the multiverse’s existence to the Anti-Monitor. In the months since the multiverse was destroyed, the Paragons have struggled to survive. Once Corrigan teaches him how to use the Spectre’s power, Oliver heads to the Vanishing Point to rescue the Paragons and strengthen Barry’s powers. With his increased speed, Barry drops off Kara, Choi, and Lex on Maltus, but is then attacked by the Anti-Monitor, losing everyone else across the Speed Force. Despite an expected double-cross from Lex, Kara and Choi convince Novu not to go through with his plans. Once Barry retrieves everyone, they arrive at the dawn of time, only to learn the Anti-Monitor will always learn of the multiverse’s existence as there will always be a Novu in the multiverse who cannot give up his ambitions. The Paragons battle the Anti-Monitor and his shadow demons until Oliver uses the Spectre’s power to restore the multiverse, with the Paragons providing additional assistance via Lex’s Book of Destiny page. As a result, Oliver dies a second and final time in Barry and Sara’s arms.Jon Cryer, David Harewood, Osric Chau, Caity Lotz, Melissa Benoist, Grant Gustin, and Ruby Rose in Arrow (2012)Waking up in the newly recreated universe, the Paragons discover they are the only ones who remember the Crisis and that both Earth-38 and Jefferson’s Earth have been merged with Earth-1 into a composite universe later designated as Earth-Prime, among other changes throughout the multiverse. While J’onn uses his psionic powers to bring their allies up to speed, Sara attempts to find Oliver, though without success. Later that night, the Paragons are attacked by shadow demons. A restored and remorseful Nash discovers that the Anti-Monitor is still alive and plotting to renew his destruction of the multiverse. To stop him once and for all, Nash, Ray, Barry, and Choi work to develop a bomb capable of shrinking the Anti-Monitor for eternity while the other heroes distract him. Once finished, Kara uses it on the Anti-Monitor and sends him to the microverse. Sometime later, Barry, Kara, Sara, Kate, Clark, J’onn, and Jefferson hold a memorial service for Oliver before agreeing to come together as a league of heroes to protect their new world in Oliver’s memoryCress Williams, Caity Lotz, Melissa Benoist, and Grant Gustin in Legends of Tomorrow (2016)

The CW Arrowverse will never be the same again, this crossover is amazing on an epic level. Witth nods to such classic shows and movies as 60s Batman, Smallville, Birds of Prey, Titans, Doom Patrol and Batman 1989. Even a sneek peek at the upcoming Star girl. It’s an end of era for the franchise with the death of Green Arrow, but with his sacrifice starts a new era with the CW version of Super Friends (Justice League, and after 3 Seasons Black Lightning finally joins the Arrowverse. Green Arrow will be missed but Crisis shows that his legacy will live on.

REVIEW: ARROWVERSE – ELSEWORLDS

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Starring

Grant Gustin (Affluenza)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Hartley Sawyer (Saving The Human Race)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Stephen Amell (The Vampire Diaries)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Melissa Benoist (Jay & Silent Bob Reboot)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Echo Kellum (Girlfriend’s Day)
Kirk Acevedo (Dawn of TPOTA)
Mehcad Brooks (Dollhouse)
Chyler Leigh (Not Another Teen Movie)
Jesse Rath (The Howling Reborn)
David Harewood (Homeland)

Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)
Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf)
Jeremy Davies (lost)
LaMonica Garrett (The Last Ship)
Elizabeth Tulloch (The Artist)
Ruby Rose (The Meg)
Cassandra Jean Amell (Roswell, New Mexico)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash 90s)
Liam Hall (Before I Fall)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
Adam Tsekhman (Deadly Exposure)

John Wesley Shipp, Stephen Amell, Melissa Benoist, and Grant Gustin in Arrow (2012)On a ravaged Earth-90, The Flash escapes as a mysterious figure uses a powerful book. On Earth-1, the same figure gives the book to Arkham Asylum psychiatrist John Deegan, who uses it to rewrite reality according to his will. The following day, Oliver Queen and Barry Allen wake up in each other’s lives. Team Flash does not believe them and locks them up in the S.T.A.R. Labs pipeline. Oliver and Barry use each other’s abilities to escape and travel to Earth-38 to get help from Kara Danvers and acquaint themselves with her cousin Clark Kent and Lois Lane, at Smallville, Kansas. Meanwhile, an android called A.M.A.Z.O. awakens and threatens Central City. Cisco Ramon retrieves Oliver and Barry from Earth-38, with Kara and Clark helping. After defeating A.M.A.Z.O., Clark returns to protect Earth-38. Cisco vibes Deegan and the mysterious figure, who sees them vibing him and tells the group that something is coming and they will not be able to stop it. Oliver realizes the figure and Deegan were located in Gotham City.In Gotham, Barry, Oliver and Kara are arrested by the GCPD. They are bailed out by Wayne Enterprises’ CEO Kate Kane, who tells them Deegan is at Arkham Asylum. The trio, with the assistance of Caitlin and Diggle, break into Arkham to confront Deegan. They retrieve the “Book of Destiny” but Deegan escapes by causing a mass breakout. During a confrontation with inmate Nora Fries, Barry and Oliver are exposed to fear gas and believe each other to be Eobard Thawne and Malcolm Merlyn, respectively. After stopping the breakout, Kate, as the vigilante Batwoman, rouses them from their hallucinatory state and tells them to leave Gotham. They head to A.R.G.U.S. to restore reality, where Earth-90’s Flash warns them about Mar Novu / Monitor, who is testing worlds for an impending crisis. They confront Novu, who breaches away Earth-90’s Flash, reclaims the book and returns it to Deegan, who writes a new reality in which Barry and Oliver are powerless criminals known as the Trigger Twins and are confronted by a black-suited Superman.Melissa Benoist in Arrow (2012)Oliver realizes the Superman impostor is actually Deegan before forcing him to save innocents while they escape to find Cisco. Deegan and his forces, including the Earth-1 doppelgänger of Kara’s adoptive sister Alex Danvers, are holding Kara at S.T.A.R. Labs. Barry and Oliver locate Cisco and persuade him to take them to Earth-38. They find Clark, who agrees to return with them to Earth-1 while Kara persuades Alex to release her. Arriving on Earth-1, Clark and Oliver fight Deegan and his forces while Alex, Barry, and Kara locate the Book of Destiny in the Time Vault and take it to Clark, who restores Barry, Oliver, and Kara to their real selves. Deegan retrieves the book and attempts to rewrite reality again.

To impede his progress, Barry and Kara slow down time by speeding around the Earth in opposite directions. Oliver confronts Novu, asking him to spare Barry and Kara, but Novu demands something from Oliver in exchange. Clark, joined by Lois, Brainiac 5, and J’onn J’onzz, fights Deegan and a revived A.M.A.Z.O. Barry and Kara are nearly torn apart by their speed but Oliver shoots the book with an arrow enhanced by Novu. Deegan reverts to himself, though heavily disfigured, and reality is restored. After returning to Earth-38, Clark and Lois tell Kara they are expecting a child and will return to Argo City, leaving Earth’s protection to her. On Earth-1, Oliver is contacted by Kate, who says Deegan, now incarcerated at Arkham, has made a new friend who tells Deegan: “Worlds will live, worlds will die, and the universe will never be the same”.Another brilliant crossover, the only downside is Legends of Tomorrow is not part of it, but still amazing. Showcasing the introduction of Batwoman was a good idea so we get a small tease of what the Batwoman TV show will be like. Thou the best part this crossover is the big set up for Crisis on Infinite Earths where the Arrowverse will never be the same again.

 

REVIEW: SUPERGIRL – SEASON 4

october-faction-netflix-review-1Starring

Melissa Benoist (Jay & Silent Bob Reboot)
Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness)
Chyler Leigh (Not Another Teen Movie)
Katie McGrath (Jurassic World)
Jesse Rath (The Howling Reborn)
Sam Witwer (Smallville)
Nicole Maines (Bit)
April Parker Jones (Jericho)
David Harewood (Homeland)

Sam Witwer in Supergirl (2015)

Recurring/ Notable Guest Cast

Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman)
Brenda Strong (Starship Troopers)
Rhona Mitra (Nip/Tuck)
Robert Baker (The Originals)
Tiya Sircar (The Good Place)
Vincent Gale (Van Helsing)
Alison Araya (Riverdale)
Bruce Boxleitner (Babylon 5)
Andrea Brooks (When Calls The Heart)
Anthony Konechny (Fifty Shades of Grey)
Fulvio Cecere (Valentine)
Kirby Morrow (NInja Turtles: The Next Mutation)
Xander Berkeley (Kick-Ass)
Sarah Smyth (50/50)
Graham Verchere (Summer of 84)
David Ajala (Fast & Furious 6)
Justice Leak (Powers)
Chris Violette (Power Rangers SPD)
Helen Slater (City Slickers)
Steve Byers (Immortals)
Michael Johnston (Teen Wolf)
LaMonica Garrett (The Last Ship)
John Wesley Shipp (The Flash 90s)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf)
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Jeremy Davies (Hannibal)
Ruby Rose (The Meg)
Cassandra Jean Amell (Roswell, New Mexico)
Adam Tsekhman (Legends of Tomorrow)
Elizabeth Tulloch (Ther Artist)
Russell Wong (Romeo Must Die)
Kate Burton (The Ice Storm)
Hannah James (Mercy Street)
Brennan Mejia (Power Rangers Dino Charge)
Garwin Sanford (Staragte Atlantis)
Jessica Meraz (Bounty Hunter)
Michael Adamthwaite (Stargate SG.1)
Louis Ozawa Changchien (Kidding)
Jonathan Bennett (Mean Girls)
Jon Cryer (Two and a Half Men)
Azie Tesfai (Superstore)
William MacDonald (Riverdale)
Willie Garson (White Collar)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Izabela Vidovic (Veronica Mars)
Olivia Nikkanen (The Society)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Patti Allan (The Killing)

Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)You have to admire the chutzpah of Supergirl’s writers and their choice to name the Season 4 finale in honor of what is widely regarded as the worst Superman movie of all time: “The Quest for Peace.” But it’s not so crazy when you consider how much Superman IV and Supergirl: Season 4 have in common. Both are steeped in political allegory about tensions between East and West. Both feature Lex Luthor trying to destroy one Kryptonian hero by harnessing their evil doppelgänger. Both are concerned with the need to achieve peace in our time. It’s just that Supergirl is much better about actually realizing those lofty ambitions.Sam Witwer in Supergirl (2015)Without burying the lead, Season 4 is easily Supergirl’s strongest to date; that much has actually been obvious for quite a while. While this season made some improvements to the supporting cast and other areas, it succeeded by turning what has historically been the show’s most glaring weakness into its greatest strength.David Harewood in Supergirl (2015)Prior to this season, Supergirl has never had a villain worthy of rivaling Kara Danvers. Not Maxwell Lord. Not Lillian Luthor. Not the Daxamites. Nobody. But Season 4 flipped the script by giving fans an embarrassment of riches. The season opened with the introduction of Agent Liberty/Ben Lockwood (Sam Witwer), a character who probably could have shouldered the burden all on his own. It helps that the show wasted so little time before delving into Lockwood’s tragic past and showing how even decent men can be transformed into hate-mongering bigots if pushed far enough.
Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)But Lockwood was just the start of Season 4’s salvo. Even as the series worked to establish a new mission and purpose for ex-DEO head J’onn J’onzz (David Harewood), it also gave him a new antagonist in Manchester Black (David Ajala). That wrinkle is one of the more memorable twists to the source material in Season 4. In the comics, Manchester is a Superman villain, one hellbent on proving that the Man of Steel is an outdated, useless relic. While Supergirl never captured the full impact of the critically adored Action Comics #775 (which inspired the episode “Whatever Happened to Truth, Justice and the American Way?”), transforming Manchester into a Martian Manhunter villain generally worked well. The worst that can be said is that Manchester sort of dropped out of the running very abruptly in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)But Season 4 saved its biggest guns for last. The series finally paid off on Season 3’s cliffhanger, introducing Kara’s twisted doppelgänger Red Daughter and revealing she, Agent Liberty and Eve Teschmacher (Andrea Brooks) to be pawns of none other than Lex Luthor (Jon Cryer). After alluding to Superman’s greatest nemesis for years, the series not only brought Lex into the fold but molded him into the first truly great, season-ending villain the series has had. Cryer’s casting turned a lot of heads initially, but it didn’t take him long to make this iconic character his own and establish himself as the most forceful presence in the show’s ensemble cast.Chyler Leigh and Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)Before getting into how the finale tied all of this together, I do want to mention the actual heroes of the series a bit. Melissa Benoist continues to be a crucial part of the series. Her warmth and inherent likability make her an ideal Supergirl, even as this season also allowed her to flex some darker muscles as Red Daughter. Lena (Katie McGrath) also fared well throughout the season, especially as her brother’s surprise return made her life a living nightmare.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)And as sad as it was to see Jeremy Jordan’s Winn written out of the picture at the end of Season 3, there’s no doubt that the series is better off for having Brainiac-5 (Jesse Rath) as the DEO’s new resident tech genius. Winn seemingly had nowhere left to go as a character, whereas Brainy brings his own brand of humor and his own foibles to the table. Not to mention his charming romance with another worthy new addition, Nia Nal (Nicole Maines). And beyond her relationship with Brainy, Nia proved to be just the sort of wide-eyed, uplifting character the series needed to balance out its growing sense of darkness.David Harewood, Jesse Rath, Melissa Benoist, and Nicole Maines in Supergirl (2015)All of these many threads paid off in the finale as Lex finally carried out his grand plan and manipulated his way right into the White House. With a secret villain pulling the strings of world governments, exploiting deep-seated fears and racial tensions and using a massive disinformation campaign to gaslight ordinary people, it’s not difficult to see how the series has been drawing from real-world events this year. The show has never been very subtle in that regard, and even less so this season.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)Not that the lack of allegorical subtlety harms the finale much. Capes and tights stories aren’t good for much if they aren’t about something bigger. If Supergirl struggled in the villain department prior to this season, at least the show has made a regular habit of dipping into the X-Men’s well and preaching tolerance and empathy in the face of a rising tide of fear and hatred. The finale hit home as well as any other episode this season, particularly near the end when it became clear that George Lockwood (Graham Verchere) escaped the cycle of hatred that so utterly consumed his father.David Harewood and Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)It was also fitting that the season-long conflict boiled down not so much in metahuman fisticuffs – and honestly, what little action there was in this episode wasn’t terribly memorable or well-staged – but truth and knowledge. With Supergirl powerless to stop Lex’s rise to power, it fell on Kara Danvers to put pen to paper and expose Luthor for the con artist he is. The idea that one well-sourced article could immediately topple a corrupt government and make the general public come to their senses is… pretty naive in light of current events. But once again, you have to respect the show’s optimism and faith that good always triumphs in the end.Jon Cryer and Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)What really sealed the deal in this episode, beyond Kara and friends’ hard-won victory, was that final confrontation between Lena and Lex. That was such a great moment between these two estranged siblings. It was disappointing that Lex gleefully killed Red Daughter seemingly without remorse. It would have been nice to see a more human side of the character as he eliminated a woman he essentially raised himself. But we did get that with Lex’s death scene, as he finally, begrudgingly but definitively accepted Lena as someone worthy of being called his sister.Best of all, this scene fueled what is easily the most compelling new plot thread heading into Season 5. Lena finally knows the truth about Kara, and it’s already eating away at her. It was fascinating seeing Lex treat that reveal as one last bit of revenge against his sister before the end. I especially enjoyed that extra layer of irony, with Lex taunting Lena for not seeing the truth right in front of her face, even as he himself has always been too blind to see the obvious truth about Superman and Clark Kent. Lex is going to be difficult to top going forward, but Lena has the potential to outdo even her brother if she makes that final plunge into darkness.With that welcome wrinkle to the status quo, I almost wish this episode didn’t devote so much time to laying seeds for Season 5. That seemed an unnecessary move in light of the Lena/Kara twist. Still, there’s clearly a lot to look forward to come October. J’onn has a new foe who hits very close to home. Leviathan is teased as the next great threat (a twist which must set a new speed record for a comic book storyline being adapted into live-action). And the Monitor (LaMonica Garrett) is busy preparing for the Crisis to come. All the pieces are in place for another terrific season, so long as the series can maintain the momentum it’s built up over the last several months.

 

REVIEW: ARROW – SEASON 7

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Main Cast

Stephen Amell (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: OOTS)
David Ramsey (Blue Bloods)
Emily Bett Rickards (Brooklyn)
Echo Kellum (Girlfriend’s Day)
Rick Gonzalez (Reaper)
Juliana Harkavy (Last Shift)
Colton Haynes (Rough Night)
Kirk Acevedo (War For The POTA)
Katie Cassidy (Black Christmas 2006)
Sea Shimooka (Pink Skies Ahead)

Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Michael Jai White (Spawn)
Vinnie Jones (The Cape)
Cody Runnels (WWE)
Ben Lewis (Scott Pilgrim vs The World)
Brendan Fletcher (Smallville)
Eliza Faria (American Conjuring)
John DeSantis (Thirteen Ghosts)
Jack Moore (Republic of Sarah)
Holly Elissa (Hellcats)
Sydelle Noel (GLOW)
Michael Jonsson (The 13th Warrior)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Andrea Sixtos (The Amazing Spider-Man)
Laara Sadiq (2012)
Lexa Doig (Andromeda)
David Nykl (Staragte Atlantis)
Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing)
Katherine McNamara (Shadowhunters)
LaMonica Garrett (The Last Ship)
John Wesley Shipp (Dawson’s Creek)
Grant Gustin (Glee)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf)
Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Jeremy Davies (Lost)
Ruby Rose (The Meg)
Cassandra Jean Amell (One Tree Hill)
Liam Hall (Lucifer)
John Barrowman (Torchwood)
Tom Cavanagh (Yogi Bear)
Kelly Hu (The Scorpion King)
Amy Gumenick (Supernatural)
Paul Blackthorne (The Inbetween)
Willa Holland (Legion)
Bex Taylor-Klaus (13 Reasons Why)
Caity Lotz (The Pact)
Joe Dinicol (Diary of The Dead)
Joseph David-Jones (Allegiant)
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Adrian Paul (Highlander: The Series)
Christopher Gerard (Funhouse)
Danny Wattley (Stargate SG.1)
Andrew Kavadas (The 13th Warrior)
Nels Lennarson (Horns)
Katrina Law (Spartacus)
Jamey Sheridan (Homeland)
Kacey Rohl (Hannibal)
Carmel Amit (Ghost Wars)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)

Lexa Doig and Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)There was plenty of uncertainty surrounding Arrow coming into the show’s seventh season. Season 6 was only narrowly saved from becoming the show’s worst thanks to a strong final stretch of episodes. With the series changing showrunners and introducing easily the most radical status quo upheaval yet, there was little telling where Season 7 might fall or whether the show could make good on its newfound potential. And while Season 7 met with more than a few bumps in the road, these changes helped reinvigorate a series that had seemed on its last legs not so long ago.Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)Season 6 ended on a major bummer for Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and his team. Not only did they fail to bring Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) to justice, but Ollie was forced to trade his freedom so that his family and friends could walk free. Season 7 opened by finally bringing life to that unused Super Max movie pitch. The former Green Arrow became Inmate 4587 – a disgraced hero locked behind bars with many of the same criminals he helped put away. And life was hardly safer on the outside, as Diaz and the Longbow Hunters targeted Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and the rest of Team Arrow.Sea Shimooka in Arrow (2012)That wasn’t the only big twist introduced in the Season 7 premiere. The series also kicked off a new recurring storyline set several decades into the future. Here, an older William Clayton (Ben Lewis) recruited an exiled Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) and other new heroes to help save a dystopian, battle-ravaged version of Star City. After devoting five seasons to exploring Ollie’s origin story in painstaking detail (and then taking a skip year), Arrow was finally ready to try something new.Kirk Acevedo and Liam Hall in Arrow (2012)These big changes served to re-energize the series quite a bit early on. The prison storyline especially helped to push the series in a very different, very engrossing direction. Ollie’s story became fueled by an immediate need to survive in one of the most dangerous places on the planet. And fortunately, unlike Barry Allen’s brief prison stint in The Flash Season 4, this was a development that was given plenty of room to breathe and play out organically. Having classic Arrow villains like Ben Turner (Michael Jai White), Derek Sampson (Cody Rhodes) and Danny Brickwell (Vinnie Jones) show up only made this storyline all the more enjoyable. Turner’s redemptive character arc turned out to be one of Season 7’s more satisfying elements.Colton Haynes and Juliana Harkavy in Arrow (2012)This isn’t to say Arrow was problem-free during this extended status quo. The series still struggled to find its footing outside of Ollie’s prison ordeal. While Team Arrow’s renewed war against Diaz proved enjoyable enough, especially with the added spice created by new villains like The Silencer (Miranda Edwards), it quickly became clear that Arrow was still suffering from the same problem that’s plagued the series for several years. There are too many characters. With so much time being taken up by the prison conflict and the flash-forwards, there was never enough room to juggle subplots like Felicity’s Diaz-induced PTSD and paranoia, Laurel’s (Katie Cassidy-Rodgers) tenure as DA, Dinah’s (Juliana Harkavy) conflicted loyalties and everything else involving the Team Arrow regulars. The series really has needed to trim its main cast for a while. And to be fair, Arrow did begin making some necessary changes on that front, but much later than it needed.Ben Lewis and Katherine McNamara in Arrow (2012)As for the flash-forwards, what initially seemed like a promising shake-up in the season premiere quickly lost its novelty factor in subsequent episodes. Here again, the series was juggling too many characters and struggling to give them the attention they deserved. Nor did the “Future Team Arrow vs. Totalitarian Corporation” storyline carry much weight. When the flash-forwards did succeed, it was usually because the events of the future managed to reflect back on the present in small, foreboding ways. Seeing an Ollie-less Team Arrow in disarray decades down the road did at least add to the general sense of unease surrounding the series, particularly later on in the wake of the “Elseworlds” crossover and the news that Season 8 will be the show’s last.
Rick Gonzalez, Stephen Amell, and Sea Shimooka in Arrow (2012)The latter half of Season 7 wound up hitting many of the same notes as the former. The writers cooked up an interesting new angle by exploring whether it’s possible for Team Arrow to coexist with the SCPD and whether Oliver Queen can be a hero who exists entirely out in the open. Yet the show didn’t always take advantage of this new status quo. More often than not, the end result played like a return to the show’s Season 5 era – more an excuse to go back to the way things were than actually seek lasting change. Once again, Arrow tried to juggle too many moving parts while also doing justice to new villains like the suave, deadly Dante (Adrian Paul). And through it all, the flash-forwards proved more distracting than truly beneficial.Katie Cassidy, Caity Lotz, Juliana Harkavy, and Emily Bett Rickards in Arrow (2012)Still, there was enough that worked during this period that the good outweighed the bad. Amell had many standout moments as he grappled with the discovery of even more dirty laundry in his family’s past. That was especially true in the final two episodes of the season, where Amell performed a great deal of the emotional heavy lifting. Diggle (David Ramsey) was central to the very enjoyable “Spartan,” which shed light on his own family background and teased that a persistent fan theory may finally come to fruition. And though the show never used him to his fullest potential, Paul’s Dante was a fun addition to the Team Arrow rogues gallery.David Ramsey and Stephen Amell in Arrow (2012)It’s probably fitting that Season 7 culminated on such a mixed note. “You Have Saved This City” wrapped up the Ninth Circle storyline (for now) without much excitement. However, the finale was far more interested in exploring the legacy of the Green Arrow and giving several key characters the closure they needed. That episode could easily have served as a proper series finale. It’s hard to know how to feel about the prospect of a truncated eighth season in light of that fact, but hopefully this shorter format will wind up being exactly what Arrow needs to become its best self.

 

REVIEW: THE FLASH – SEASON 5

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Starring

Grant Gustin (Glee)
Candice Patton (The Guest)
Danielle Panabaker (The Crazies)
Carlos Valdes (Vixen)
Hartley Sawyer (The Young and The Restless)
Danielle Nicolet (Central Intelligence)
Jessica Parker Kennedy (Cam)
Chris Klein (American Pie)
Tom Cavanagh (Scrubs)
Jesse L. Martin (Injustice)

Jessica Parker Kennedy in The Flash (2014)

Recurring / NOtable Guest Cast

Keiynan Lonsdale (Love, Simon)
Patrick Sabongui (Power Rangers)
Daniel Cudmore (Twilight: New Moon)
Erin Cummings (Bitch Slap)
Susan Walters (The Vampire Diaries)
Kiana Madeira (Trinkets)
Kyle Secor (Veronica Mars)
Troy James (Hellboy)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Carlo Marks (Smallville)
Liam McIntyre (Spartacus)
Lossen Chambers (Unspeakable)
LaMonica Garrett (The Last Ship)
Michelle Harrison (Tru Calling)
John Wesley Shipp (Dawson’s Creek)
Teddy Sears (Chicago Fire)
Tony Todd (Candyman)
Chad Rook (War For The POTA)
Morena Baccarin (Gotham)
Stephen Amell (Arrow)
David Ramsey (Dexter)
Tyler Hoechilin (Teen Wolf)
Melissa Benoist (Whiplash)
Jeremy Davies (Hannibal)
Elizabeth Tulloch (The Artist)
Ruby Rose (The Meg)
Reina Hardesty (StartUp)
Gabrielle Walsh (East Los High)
Charlene Amoia (How I Met Your Mother)
Britne Oldford (American Horror Story)
Victoria Park (Plus One)
Kimberly Williams-Paisley (The Christmas Chronicles)
Audrey Marie Anderson (The Unit)
Zibby Allen (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.)
Sarah Carter (Smallville)
Paul McGillion (Stargate: Atlantis)
Catherine Lough Haggquist (Godzilla)
Kathryn Gallagher (You)
BD Wong (Gotham)
Emily Kinney (The Walking Dead)

Hartley Sawyer and Carlos Valdes in The Flash (2014)Odd as it may sound, The Flash may very well now be the flagship show in the Arrowverse. When you think about it, the series’ ascension to that spot makes sense, especially when you factor in how it’s consistently The CW’s top rated show. Plus, it often charts new course for the DC TV landscape as a whole, which I’ll discuss in just a bit.In the meantime, though, I’m going to shower the next leg in the Scarlet Speedster’s journey with much praise after being left jaded by what I thought was a parabolic fourth season. Those familiar with this site may remember how I didn’t exactly care for how our most recent trips to Central City became downright farcical at times, whereas the premiere I’ve just had the honor of screening found the proper balance achieved in earlier seasons.Grant Gustin and Candice Patton in The Flash (2014)Maybe it’s just me, but Nora West-Allen AKA XS, played by the adorable Jessica Parker Kennedy, gave this show the shot in the arm that it needed. After being left stranded in the present, Barry (Grant Gustin) and Iris’ (Candice Patton) daughter from the future manages to strengthen the family aspect that’s been a solid cornerstone since day one, while also taking the action scenes to the next level. Being someone who digs legacy heroes, I was delighted to hear Nora begin season 5 with narration similar to that of Barry’s, thereby letting us know that she’s a chip off the old block and, yes, she’s the fastest woman alive in her native time period.Chris Klein in The Flash (2014)In very short order, I became convinced that Nora is quite possibly the role Kennedy was born to play, and is quickly becoming my favorite thing about the show. Believe me, it won’t take long for you to warm up to the father-daughter dynamic shared between her and Barry. It’s a tad awkward as one would expect at first, sure, but the two bond before long.Grant Gustin in The Flash (2014)Seeing as how this is a comic book-based series, their first instance of Take Your Child To Work Day comes in the form of a run-in with Gridlock (Daniel Cudmore), our first freak of the week for the fall. In truth, it’s probably best that we get someone of lesser power to start off things before organically building up to the new big bad, Cicada (Chris Klein). Make no mistake, the Flash himself isn’t forgotten in the premiere, as this is still very much his headlining gig. What’s more is that longtime viewers will be rewarded as he runs the costuming gamut by donning the suits he wore in seasons 1 and 2, before settling on his new threads.Chris Klein and Danielle Panabaker in The Flash (2014)Continuing on that note, the comic aficionados among you should geek out upon seeing said duds emerging from a ring, an element from the source material that’s finally been utilized by the producers. As for getting it back inside, well, that sounds like a job for Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes) and his magnificent mind. Rest assured that a piece of jewelry isn’t the only thing brought back from the future because – get this – Nora gives quite the nod to Batman Beyond by using “schway” in a sentence on multiple occasions. Not only that, but the DC Easter eggs don’t stop there – her name-drops may be laying the groundwork for the next five years of Arrowverse programming, so be sure to pay close attention.Danielle Panabaker and Jessica Parker Kennedy in The Flash (2014)Now, I’m not going to get into major spoilers, but I will say that stuff established all the way back in the pilot episode is revisited and factors into what’s to come. The sharper guys and gals reading this may have a few good guesses after learning that, so just keep on formulating your own theories until it’s showtime. At this point, I imagine lovers of Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) are wondering what’s going on with her character and the unfolding mystery involving her past. Though her alter ego of Killer Frost has yet to resurface, some sizable breadcrumbs are provided, each of which will definitely factor heavily into future episodes. Bank on it.The Flash (2014)In the eyes of this critic, showrunner Todd Helbing and company have rediscovered what’s quintessentially The Flash. Hand to Zod, the creative minds behind the series look to be returning it to the glory days of seasons 1 and 2 – and that’s no joke. These folks have put together one of the strongest premieres this show has ever produced, and it’s guaranteed to leave people talking. Personally, I can’t wait to see what’s next because, you know, it’s not like I can run so fast that I can time travel or anything.

REVIEW: SUPERGIRL – SEASON 2

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Starring

Melissa Benoist (Jay & Silent Bob Reboot)
Mehcad Brooks (Necessary Roughness)
Chyler Leigh (Not Another Teen Movie)
Jeremy Jordan (The Last Five Years)
Floriana Lima (The Punisher)
Chris Wood (The Vampire DIaries)
David Harewood (Hoemland)

Recurring/ Notable Guest Cast

Calista Flockhart (The Last Shot)
Tyler Hoechlin (Teen Wolf)
Katie McGrath (Jurassic World)
Brenda Strong (Starship Troopers)
Frederick Schmidt (Mission Impossible: Fallout)
Andrea Brooks (When Calls The Heart)
Ian Gomez (The Morning Show)
Lynda Carter (Wonder Woman)
Sharon Leal (Dreamgirls)
Nadine Crocker (Cabin Fever)
Laura Benanti (Royal Pains)
Dichen Lachman (Dollhouse)
John DeSantis (Thirteen Ghosts)
William Mapother (Lost)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Bones)
Dean Cain (Lois & Clark)
Robert Gant (13 Reasons Why)
Helen Slater (City Slickers)
Carlos Valdes (The Flash)
Harley Quinn Smith (Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood)
Robin Atkin Downes (Babylon 5)
Rahul Kohli (Izombie)
Brit Morgan (Friend Request)
Grant Gustin (The Flash)
Steven Valentine (Mike & Molly)
Peter Gadiot (Matador)
Ian Butcher (The 100)
Tamzin Merchant (Carnival Row)
Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark)
Kevin Sorbo (Hercules: TLJ)
Darren Criss (American Crime Story)
Michael J Rogers (Siren)
Rahul Kohli (Izombie)
Gregg Henry (Black Lightning)
Jordana Taylor (A Wrinkle In Time)
Malina Weissman (A Series of Unfortunate Events)
Mark Gibbon (Man of Steel)

Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)Supergirl went through some pretty fundamental changes in the transition from Season 1 to Season 2. Not only did the series add several key new cast members (and lose another), production shifted from Los Angeles to Vancouver as the series itself hopped from CBS to The CW. That shake-up wound up working in the show’s favor. unfortunately, over time it became clear that Supergirl still has some significant problems to work through before it can stand alongside the best of the Arrowverse.
The move to The CW did seem to work in the show’s favor for the most part. Even ignoring the fact that that it made crossovers with the other Arrowverse shows much easier, that shift helped Supergirl feel slightly more cohesive when held alongside its siblings. Stylistically and tonally, Supergirl felt very much like like a good-natured sister series to The Flash. And with The Flash often being unnecessarily mired in its own darkness this year, it often fell to Supergirl to be the bright, cheery, optimistic alternative.
Tyler Hoechlin and Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)There’s also the fact that the crew working on these Arrowverse shows have gotten pretty skilled at making the most of their limited VFX budgets. Supergirl was a very expensive series for CBS, yet the often lackluster special effects didn’t always make it apparent how much money was being poured into the show. In Season 2, however, Supergirl looked better despite costing its new network less. That was especially true with the shots of Kara flying or those depicting Martian Manhunter in his true form. There were still cases where the show’s reach clearly exceeded its grasp in terms of special effects (particularly in the season finale), but on the whole Supergirl became a better-looking series in its second season.Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood in Supergirl (2015)Bucking the usual trend, the new season picked up exactly where the previous one left off, with Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) and Martian Manhunter (David Harewood) examining the mysterious space pod that crashed outside National City. That paved the way for the introduction of Mon-El (Chris Wood), a Daxamite refugee and new love interest for Kara. Mon-El’s arrival signaled a general change in direction for the series, one that saw the DEO set up a new headquarters in National City and the focus shift more towards the growing tension between Earth’s human citizens and the growing number of alien immigrants. The main villains of the season (including Brenda Strong’s Lillian Luthor and the members of Cadmus) sought to take advantage of that human/alien tension. Given the general state of the world these days, showrunners Andrew Kreisberg and Ali Adler could hardly have picked a more inspired and relevant direction for Season 2.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)That general direction worked because it was clearly and immediately topical and more because it spoke to the general appeal of the Superman franchise. More than ever, Kara emerged as a shining beacon of hope and optimism in troubled times. The season’s political elements were never really more political or controversial than a call for empathy and understanding among all peoples. And with a lead actress as charming as Benoist lighting the way, it’s impossible not to be won over by the show’s feel-good approach to superhero storytelling. More than ever, Benoist is the rock upon which this series rests.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)Mon-El’s debut only furthered Kara’s growth this year. Wood proved a fun addition to the cast, but his character really shone whenever the series focused on the growing romance between Mon-El and Kara. As the prince of a xenophobic and hedonistic world, Mon-El arrived on his new homeworld with plenty of rough edges. It was a lot of fun watching Kara help smooth over those edges and inspire Mon-El to become a hero even as the two fell in love. The two characters experienced their share of ups and downs over the course oft he season, and while the general trajectory of their romance was often predictable, the execution never failed to impress.
Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)Mon-El wasn’t the only high-profile addition to the series in the early Season 2 episodes. The show finally stopped playing coy with Superman and cast an actual actor in the role (Tyler Hoechlin) rather than simply obscuring a stunt double in shadow. That may well be the best change the series made in Season 2. Within seconds, it became clear that Hoechlin was a worthy successor to actors like Christopher Reeve and Dean Cain, bringing a warmth and charisma to the part that’s been sorely lacking in certain other live-action Superman performances lately. The only disappointing part about Superman’s inclusion this year is that he didn’t appear more often. I can understand the desire to keep the series focused on its title character, but the Kara/Clark dynamic is simply too good not to exploit to its fullest.Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood in Supergirl (2015)This season also introduced two members of the Luthor clan in the form of the aforementioned Lillian and her estranged daughter, Lena (Katie McGrath). Lillian left quite a bit to be desired. One of the biggest problems with Season 1 was the show’s inability to generate nuanced, three-dimensional villains. Between Strong’s overly intense performance and the character’s general lack of memorable characteristics, Lillian did nothing to reverse that trend. Lena, at least, fared better than her mother, mostly because the writers had the foresight not to treat her as a villain. Instead, her defining struggle all season was her desire to redeem the Luthor name and prove that she shouldn’t be defined by her brother’s actions. The fact that Lena and Kara became close friends over the course of the season added an extra appeal to Lena’s character arc, as it only served to highlight the question of whether Lena is truly as selfless and noble as she claims. The season failed to deliver a satisfying conclusion to that arc, but I’ll get to that in a bit.Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood in Supergirl (2015)Alex (Chyler Leigh) proved to be another dependable member of the Supergirl cast this year, with some of the season’s best moments focusing either on the bond between Alex and her sister or the romance between Alex and Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima). Alex’s struggle to come to terms with her sexuality proved to be one of the more compelling subplots of the season, particularly thanks to the terrifically executed coming out scene in “Changing.” As much as the Arrowverse can frustrate with the insistence on forcing every available character into some sort of romantic subplot, the Alex/Maggie material gave this season real sense of emotional weight. In a show crammed full of metahumans and aliens, the ordinary human drama often stood out more than anything else.Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)If any portion of the show was damaged by the shift to The CW, it was the CatCo characters. Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart) all but vanished this season as the move to Vancouver ƒwled to Flockhart departing as a series regular. The show was poorer for her absence. Worse, Cat’s absence called into question whether Supergirl even needs the CatCo elements at all, a question the show was never really able to answer this season. Sure, the perpetually cranky Snapper Carr (Ian Gomez) made for an entertaining foil to the Kara as she pursued her budding journalism career, but too often the CatCo subplots felt superfluous and unnecessary to the larger picture. Does Kara actually need a day job in addition to her DEO work?Melissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015)The two real casualties of the Season 2 shift were James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) and Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan). The Kara/James romance was basically cut short as soon as it began in the Season 1 finale, leaving the latter character adrift and in search of a new purpose. That was disappointing, but the real frustration came with the decision to transform James from intrepid photojournalist to honest-to-goodness superhero. James’ transformation into Guardians never felt like a logical extension of his Season 1 journey. Nor did his ongoing Guardian exploits add anything to the show. Equally frustrating is the way Winn became sucked into James’ delusions of superhero grandeur, preventing him from having any real storylines of his own (apart from a rather underwhelming romance with an alien). Just as the show has been struggling to justify the continued focus on CatCo as a whole, this season did little to suggest that James should remain an active player going forward.Melissa Benoist and Katie McGrath in Supergirl (2015)I mentioned how the move to The CW helped Supergirl in terms of facilitating more Arrowverse crossovers. The weird thing is that Supergirl itself didn’t benefit much from that trend. Yes, Kara was aMelissa Benoist in Supergirl (2015) big part of the “Invasion!” crossover, but the Supergirl episode, “Medusa,” barely tied into that crossover other than a bit of quick setup at the very end. And while the Flash/Supergirl musical team-up more than lived up to the hype, that was a Flash episode, not Supergirl. I’d like to see Supergirl benefit more directly from these crossovers in the future. Fortunately, that seems to be the case with next year’s four-way crossover. Supergirl definitely had its ups and downs over the course of Season 2, as all the Arrowverse shows tend to do. In general, the season hits its peak in February thanks to a string of excellent episodes focused on Lena’s troubled family history and the resurgent threat of Cadmus. Unfortunately, the show seemed to lose its momentum after that point, with the final three episodes ranking among the worst of the season. Supergirl seems to have inherited Arrow’s habit of completely falling apart in the homestretch.Melissa Benoist and Chris Wood in Supergirl (2015)In many ways, Supergirl improved in its second season as the show moved to The CW and bolstered its already solid cast with several new favorites. This season not only looked better, it managed to blend epic superhuman conflicts with very real, authentic character drama and a status quo marked by plenty of anti-alien sentiment in National City.

REVIEW: ANOTHER LIFE- SEASON 1

Katee Sackhoff in Another Life (2019)

Starring

Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica)
Selma Blair (Mom and Dad)
Tyler Hoechlin (Supergirl)
Justin Chatwin (War of The Worlds)
Samuel Anderson (The History Boys)
Elizabeth Ludlow (Max Steel)
Blu Hunt (The New Mutants)
A.J. Rivera (Grandfathered)
Alexander Eling (Make It Pop)
Alex Ozerov (Bitten)
Jake Abel (Percy Jackson)
JayR Tinaco (always be My Maybe)
Jessica Camacho (The Flash)
Barbara Williams (Thief of Hearts)

Katee Sackhoff in Another Life (2019)It’s been ten years since we last saw Katee Sackhoff suit up as Kara “Starbuck” Thrace in the critically acclaimed series Battlestar Galactica, and now she’s taking to the stars once again in her new Netflix series Another Life. This dark intergalactic adventure sees Sackhoff leading a team of scientists on a mission to uncover the truth about a mysterious alien vessel that has appeared on Earth. Unfortunately, despite the show’s best efforts to channel Sackhoff’s earlier sci-fi success (along with several other notable staples of the genre), it struggles to establish its own identity in a season filled with underdeveloped characters and stakes that somehow manage to simultaneously feel both too high, and not quite high enough.A.J. Rivera and Alexander Eling in Another Life (2019)From creator Aaron Martin (Slasher), Another Life opens on influencer-journalist Harper Glass (Selma Blair) watching as an alien spacecraft (which resembles a giant, metallic Möbius strip) passes outside her window. It eventually lands in a field, where it promptly cocoons itself in a shimmering crystalline shell, reminiscent of Annihilation’s Shimmer. This is the last we see of Harper in the pilot episode; she won’t reappear until midway through episode two, which feels indicative of the show’s general lack of focus when it comes to its large supporting cast. They appear when the plot requires it, and feel as though they fizzle out of existence the second they leave the screen.Katee Sackhoff and Elizabeth Faith Ludlow in Another Life (2019)Following the arrival of the alien craft, Another Life jumps ahead six months in time, switching perspectives to Niko Breckenridge (Sackhoff), her husband, Erik Wallace (Justin Chatwin), and their young daughter Jana (Lina Renna). Erik is a scientist who has been studying the “Artifact,” as the humans have come to call the alien structure. While he and his team haven’t made much headway in determining who the aliens are or what they want, they do know that the Artifact is sending signals out into space, and Niko has just been appointed as the commander of the ship tasked with following those signals to their destination, Pi Canis Majoris. Neither of them really want Niko to go, but she worries that without her, the mission will fail, putting their family in jeopardy.Tyler Hoechlin and Jessica Camacho in Another Life (2019)So Niko heads off on the Salvare, where the plan is to spend most of the months-long mission in induced soma sleep, but of course, there wouldn’t be much of a series if everything went according to plan. A month into their journey, Niko is awakened by William (Samuel Anderson) the ship’s holographic onboard computer, who has been programmed to be the ideal complement for Niko — which makes sense — and also, bafflingly, to feel human emotions, including fear, anger, and uncertainty, which is a little perplexing given that William controls every system on the ship. I have a hard time coming up with a scenario in which it makes sense to give a glorified auto-pilot the potential to have a panic attack if things get intense (and they do indeed get very intense), but okay. Despite taking itself extremely seriously, Another Life is not a series that welcomes peeking underneath the hood to examine its internal logic, so it’s best to just let it be.another-lifeUnsurprisingly, William informs Niko that the Salvare has encountered a complication while en route to Pi Canis Majoris, and soon the entire primary crew has been awakened in order to deal with it. I say “primary” crew because the Salvare also has a seemingly limitless supply of backup crew members still in soma sleep, conveniently stowed away in their soma pods until the moment they’re needed to take over for a member of the primary crew who is no longer able to serve their function. But we’ll get to that in a minute. This crew consists of a dozen diverse twenty-somethings, ostensibly chosen at least in part for their youth; one character explains in the pilot that cowardice tends to flare up after people turn 27, and that it therefore makes sense to staff a dangerous mission with a crew who won’t shy away from risks. This logic doesn’t entirely track — both Niko and her second-in-command, Ian Yerxa (Tyler Hoechlin)are in their 30s — and is one of many, many examples throughout Another Life’s first season of the show doing its best to answer small questions no one was asking, while ignoring other, much bigger ones.another_life-publicity_still_2-h_2019Chief among them: who are all these people? Another Life has an intimidatingly large cast, and with the exceptions of Niko and Erik, it doesn’t seem particularly interested in exploring who any of them are. I spent most of the ten-episode season barely able to recall any of the Salvare crew’s names or jobs, and there’s a few whose roles I still can’t quite pin down. It doesn’t help that Another Life has a shockingly high body count, with multiple members of the Salvare’s crew dying horribly every couple episodes. However, those deaths don’t carry the weight they should, for either the viewers or the characters. We never get to know these characters well enough to really mourn their loss, and the endless supply of backup personnel ensures that the Salvare will never have to operate with less than a full crew, making the life-or-death stakes feel both too extreme — watching one shallowly drawn character after another die excruciating deaths becomes rapidly exhausting — and weirdly meaningless.AAAABWDQDqrL-l-hBEBHjJ51Yx47hUQzwWmO1Dw_amNoig7V7dK-xaVhmyy5nknFcoNWr3O45AvHLK7HmTUDqqRNVaf7gq8iZIZgCgThe only characters Another Life imbues with any real sense of history or interiority are Niko and Erik, who each do their admirable best to carry their respective storylines, Niko on the Salvare, and Erik back on Earth, doing his best to solo parent Jana while continuing to study the Artifact. Sackhoff and Chatwin each give earnest performances (although Sackhoff does occasionally succumb to the urge to chew the scenery, and often defaults to a facial expression I can best describe as “Blue Steel intensity”), making it easy to buy into their relationship, despite their limited screen time together. But for every flashback (or occasionally, more inventive method) used to explore their identities and backstories, it becomes even more glaring how little Another Life is willing to dig into the rest of its characters. With so many people to keep track of, I found myself longing for the show to deep-dive one supporting character at a time, rather than spend so much energy on Niko while giving the rest only the most surface-level treatment.94c04b8770a38df67ba71b5fca00aac12802c6c9Throughout its first season, Another Life intentionally channels a number of intense sci-fi films such as Alien, Arrival,or Annihilation, although it’s debatable whether including such heavy parallels to highly acclaimed properties works in its favor, or whether they simply function as a reminder of all that Another Life isn’t. However, as I watched, I couldn’t help drawing comparisons to other, perhaps less-obvious shows like LOST or even Game of Thrones, which also had large ensemble casts and a tendency to brutally kill off principal characters without warning, but were skilled in developing those characters in ways that made their deaths uniquely devastating. Even in their first seasons, deaths on those shows were heartwrenching, not just because death is innately painful, or because the circumstances were objectively horrifying, but because we had emotionally invested in those specific characters, and it hurt to lose them.0475c1200ce9f4d1c1bb05b74ec58ed78e63af09More than anything else, it’s this lack of specificity that holds Another Life back in its first season. Despite its familiarity, its premise is still intriguing, and while the pacing can occasionally get bogged down in undercooked subplots that don’t seem to tie neatly into the main thread of the series, the show is adept at ending each episode in a way that had me immediately reaching for the remote, eager to start the next one. And although I wished for more conflict that stemmed from the characters’ actions as opposed to originating externally, Another Life still manages to keep the moment-to-moment excitement pretty high. But the series’ failure to invest in any of its cast outside of Sackhoff and Chatwin means that even when Another Life is functioning at its best, it still feels as though it’s holding its audience at arm’s length.3lEzD6kE_oIt’s a shame, because there’s a ton of unmined story potential in the characters of Another Life, who are diverse across a variety of spectrums, including race, sexuality, and gender. It’s only toward the end of the season that the show begins hinting at more in-depth storylines and relationships for a few of its secondary characters, who have spent most of the season running, screaming, and spouting exposition-heavy technical dialogue. Yet even those brief glimpses at what might lie ahead already feels more compelling and interesting than most of the narratives they’ve been given up until that point. There is a much better, more emotionally affecting show lying just beneath the generically futuristic trappings of Another Life, but in its first season, it fails to develop its characters in a way that would give its extraterrestrial threats and space-horror scares any sort of significant weight. As such, despite some intriguing central mysteries — what is the Artifact? Who sent it? And what do they want? — the series has a hard time getting me to invest in finding answers. I can only hope that, should Another Life receive a second season, it spends a little more time building up the connections and conflicts within the Salvare itself, so that it’s all the more terrifying when the dangers lurking outside threaten to rip them apart.

REVIEW: ROAD TO PERDITION

CAST

Tom Hanks (The Terminal)
Tyler Hoechin (Supergirl)
Paul Newman (The Hustler)
Jude Law (Spy)
Daniel Craig (Cowboys & Aliens)
Stanley Tucci (The Hunger Games)
Jennifer Jason Leigh (The Hateful Eight)
Liam Aiken (The Frontier)
Dylan Baker (Changing Lanes)
Ciarán Hinds (The Woman In Black)
Anthony LaPaglia (The Custodian)
Harry Groener (Buffy: TVS)

In 1931, during the Great Depression, Michael Sullivan, Sr. is an enforcer for Irish mob boss John Rooney in Rock Island, Illinois. Rooney raised the orphan Sullivan and loves him more than his own biological son, Connor. Rooney sends Connor and Sullivan to meet with disgruntled associate Finn McGovern, but Connor shoots McGovern, resulting in Sullivan gunning down McGovern’s men. Sullivan’s twelve-year-old son Michael, Jr. had hidden in his father’s car and witnesses the event. Despite Sullivan swearing his son to secrecy and Rooney pressuring Connor to apologize for the reckless action, Connor murders Sullivan’s wife Annie and younger son Peter. At the same time, he sends Sullivan to an ambush at a speakeasy. Sullivan realizes it’s a set-up, kills two men at the bar, and escapes. He goes to Chicago with his son to seek Al Capone, for work and to discover the location of Connor, who has gone into hiding.Capone’s underboss Frank Nitti rejects Sullivan’s proposals, before informing Rooney of the meeting. Rooney reluctantly allows Nitti to dispatch assassin Harlen Maguire, who is also a crime scene photographer, to kill Sullivan. Maguire tracks him and his son to a roadside diner, but fails to kill Sullivan; realizing Maguire’s intentions, Sullivan escapes through the bathroom and punctures Maguire’s car tire before fleeing. In reaction to the ordered hit, Sullivan begins robbing banks that hold Capone’s money, hoping to trade it for Connor. Sullivan is impeded when the mob withdraws its money, so he visits Rooney’s accountant Alexander Rance at his hotel. The encounter is a set-up, with Rance stalling Sullivan until Maguire enters with a shotgun. In the ensuing crossfire, Rance is killed, Maguire is injured by flying glass shards, and Sullivan escapes with the ledgers; as Sullivan flees, Maguire shoots him in his left arm.When his father collapses from his wound, Michael Jr. drives his father to a farm, where a childless elderly couple help him recover. Sullivan bonds with his son and discovers from the ledgers that Connor has been embezzling from his father for years, using the names of dead men. As the Sullivans depart, they give the couple much of the stolen money. Sullivan confronts Rooney with the information while they attend Mass. Rooney already knew about the embezzlement and that Connor was likely to die, if not by Sullivan’s hand then by the Chicago Outfit once Rooney dies. He still refuses to give up his son. He encourages Sullivan to leave with his son. Later one night, cloaked by darkness and rain, Sullivan dispatches Rooney’s entire entourage with his Thompson submachine gun and walks directly up to Rooney. As Rooney mutters that he is glad his killer is Sullivan, a reluctant Sullivan pulls the trigger. Seeing no further reason to protect Connor, Nitti reveals his location, after making Sullivan promise to end the feud. Sullivan goes to the hotel where Connor is hiding and kills him.Sullivan drives his son to stay at his Aunt Sara’s beach house in Perdition, a town on the shore of Lake Michigan. However, he is ambushed and shot by a disfigured Maguire. As Maguire prepares to photograph the dying Sullivan, Michael, Jr. appears and points a gun at Maguire but cannot muster the will to fire. Sullivan pulls out his gun and kills Maguire, before dying in his son’s arms. Mourning his father’s death, Michael, Jr. returns to live with the elderly farm couple. Growing up, Michael, Jr. reflects that his father’s only fear was that his son would become like him. Michael states he has never held a gun since the fatal encounter between Maguire and his father. When asked if Sullivan was a good or bad man, he replies “he was my father.”Based on a graphic novel by Max Allan Collins, “Road to Perdition” is a powerful, atmospheric crime thriller that blends “Godfather”-style mayhem with philosophical meditations on the nature of good and evil, and the relationship between sons and their fathers.