Friday, May 29, 2015

Daredevil S01 E07: Stick

I had mentioned before that I'm not a big Daredevil guy. If that's not embarrassing enough, the next bit will be. My introduction to Stick was Splinter. That's right, the rat sensei of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Splinter, was my introduction to Stick, Daredevil's martial arts teacher and enemy of The Hand - or as they're known in the TMNT universe, The Foot. And the thing is, I was only barely aware of the Turtles.

When the TMNT cartoon was hot, a friend who was really into them pointed out that they were originally based on a comic I might enjoy. He thought it was a comic I would dig because it mocked the comics I didn't like. TMNT was a parody of all that ninja mumbo jumbo nonsense that Frank Miller had made Daredevil into. My Daredevil was a swinging swashbuckler in San Fran who fought the Jester, the Owl, and the Stilt-Man - not what I'd seen in that title of late. But TMNT intrigued me. I loved the parody, and shameful as it is, it's where I learned of Splinter, I mean Stick.

In the comics, Stick was also a blind man, and like Daredevil possessed a kind of radar sense, and so when he encountered the young Matt Murdock, trained him in the use of it. Stick was the leader of a martial arts/super powered group called The Chaste, whose students also included Elektra. The Chaste's mission was to eradicate The Hand. Stick eventually died in that pursuit. He might have also encountered Wolverine back in the 1930s. As I've said, I'm not a big Miller fan, so beyond that, details are iffy in my mind.

Stick, as portrayed by Scott Glenn, makes his first and supposedly only appearance in Netflix's "Daredevil" in this self-titled episode. Rumor has it that originally showrunner Steven S. DeKnight wanted Sonny Chiba for the role, but I think this works out better. Of course as we see in our pre-credits scene, Scott Glenn is pretty damned Sonny Chiba...

In the opening, Stick is after a businessman in Japan, and by after, I mean Quentin Tarantino style. Somebody is going to die horribly either by gun or sword. Stick is looking for something called Black Sky, and takes first the guy's hand, and then his life to find out what he wants to know. Whatever Black Sky is, it's on its way to New York.

Back in New York the Owl is doing some accounting for Mr. Nobu, and intimates that he knows that his people (are they The Hand?) are bringing something into the docks. Owlsley's intention is an unofficial alliance in case the Kingpin turns on them as he did the Russians, but Nobu will have none of it. Just as they leave and we know whatever Black Sky is, Nobu's people are getting it, Daredevil confronts The Owl, and as he's about to get the info he needs, his prey gets the upper hand and tases our hero. When Stick coincidentally finds Daredevil, it's flashback time.

Folks who are regular readers of my reviews know my feelings on superhero secret origins especially in film and television. Get in and get out, or don't mention it at all, and get right to the real story. I was so proud of this "Daredevil" in that they did the origin in just a couple minutes in the first episode. Daredevil is a Silver Age Stan Lee superhero, blah blah blah, radiation creates heroes, villains, and monsters. We get it, move on.

Based on those thoughts, one might think I would hate this episode. Logically you'd be right, but I don't. Scott Glenn, doing his curmudgeonly best David Carradine crossed with Robert Durst, saves these sequences. I love the bit in the park where Stick trains young Matt to open his world and read it, and equally love when he judges the adult Matt for what he's done with his life.

Stick is here in Hell's Kitchen, fighting the war he spoke of so often when training young Matt. This war this night involves the weapon called Black Sky, what Stick refers to as the bringer of shadows. It's not something Matt wants in his world. The two strike an alliance. Matt helps Stick stop Black Sky, and Stick promises he won't kill anyone. Yeah, that's gonna work, especially when he says it Robert Durst style.

We also get a bit of our work triangle - Matt, Foggy, and Karen. Over and above their discussion of the vigilante the paper is calling 'the devil of Hell's Kitchen,' we get just enough of the three actors' chemistry to know we want more. Charlie Cox and Elden Henson are especially good together, as I've said before. Even Foggy knows now what we've known since episode one, Karen is hiding something. Maybe she's a vampire? Oh yeah, that's right.

Speaking of Karen and her secrets, no matter how good Deborah Ann Woll and Vondie Curtis-Hall are separately, they unfortunately lack that same chemistry I mentioned above. When Karen and Ben Urich get together to trade notes, even the master actor can't save the scene from seeming awkward and long. At least he's aware he was the target last episode. Perhaps in the future the awkwardness might be saved as Karen finally brings Foggy into Ben's house of cards circle.

Black Sky turns out to be a child, in torn clothes and chains, delivered to the docks in a big storage unit. While Black Sky appears to be a boy, Stick only refers to him with the 'it' pronoun, as if he is a thing. In the comics, The Hand does have an interest in artifacts of supernatural or demonic origin, just as Stick himself has an interest in powered individuals. Witness his seeking out Daredevil and Elektra as students with The Chaste.

Stick claims to have killed Black Sky but it happens off-screen, and given his past with the truth, I wonder if it happened the way he says it did. "Daredevil" takes place on the edge of a universe of superheroes. Matt and company co-exist with the Avengers but the worlds don't really intersect. I think this is one case where the edges start to blur, and we'll be seeing more from this particular episode in future Netflix series as we build toward "The Defenders."

The appearance of Stone at the end seems to be an assurance of that, whether here, in future series, or in the second season of "Daredevil." Scott Glenn is amazing as Stick, and equally amazing are the fight sequences between him and Matt, both as a kid and as an adult. Props go to Skylar Gaertner as young Matt. The kid is really good too. Excellent episode all around.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Remembering Late Nights with David Letterman

As I watched the finale of "The Late Show with David Letterman" last night I couldn't help but remember how much a part of my life the man was and is. Now I have to be honest, I haven't really paid all that much attention to Letterman since he moved over to CBS, but I did watch both "Late Night" and "The David Letterman Show" which aired on weekday mornings in the early 1980s.

As far as the morning show went, I remember laughing out loud at it, and my mother thinking I was weird because she couldn't figure out what was so funny. I also recall when "Late Night with David Letterman" came along he would refer to that morning show as 'way back in the late fifties.' Before this of course I knew Letterman from his stand-up comedy and guest-hosting on "The Tonight Show."

I remember that Philadelphia came to "Late Night" late (pardon the pun), not airing the show until a few months after it had begun. However, back in the analog day of pre-digital cable, I could precariously hold the dial between Philadelphia NBC affiliate channel 3 and NYC affiliate channel 4, and get a reasonable broadcast of "Late Night" from New York.

This is the way I first met Larry 'Bud' Melman, Chris Elliott, and Stupid Pet Tricks, the most memorable (and disturbing) of which had a dog drinking milk from his owner's mouth. I remember frequent guests Sandra Bernhard, future frenemy Jay Leno, and fellow only-New Yorker (at least at the time) Howard Stern. I was much happier when I could see the show on channel 3 finally, and remember seeing great acts of the day like R.E.M. and Indigo Girls.

Still, even though I hadn't watched much of "The Late Show," I'm sad to see Dave go. Last night's viewing only cemented the reasons that I should have been watching. Have a great retirement, Dave, come back and visit some time.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Towns That Dreaded Sundown

Producer/director/actor Charles B. Pierce, perhaps best known for making Bigfoot famous in The Legend of Boggy Creek, took another 'true story' and mined it for this Sam Zarkoff American International movie that serves as the blueprint for the traditional slasher film. Written by Earl E. Smith, in 1976's The Town That Dreaded Sundown, we learn the tale of the Phantom Killer who terrorized young couples on lovers lanes in Texarkana in 1946.

The movie begins documentary style establishing the period, including narration by Vern Stierman who also did the job more than ably for Boggy Creek. His frequent voiceovers keep the film solidly in docudrama mode, which for the most part works.

Unlike the slasher flicks that would follow, this one views things from law enforcement as opposed to the kids. Veteran character actors Andrew Prine and Ben Johnson take point in the investigation with great chemistry, along with Bierce himself providing much needed comic relief as their sidekick. Also look for Dawn Wells, Mary Ann from "Gilligan's Island," late in the film.

The film looks very good, and the period is set well. I loved the music, the clothes, the cars, and even the language. Kudos go to Jaime Mendoza-Nava, an underrated composer of 1970s B-movies who deserves more credit than perhaps he's been given. He was good. The film gets all As for atmosphere. And it's not just a great period piece for the 1940s, but also 1970s cinema as well.

Stuntman and later stunt coordinator Bud Davis played the masked killer known as the Phantom. Except for the ridiculous trombone scene, he is actually pretty frightening. And his white bag mask conjures imagery of the Ku Klux Klan, which is scary enough, but notably it made me wonder what the movie was really about when I saw the video box before I ever saw it.

The Town That Dreaded Sundown was reimagined in 2014 by Ryan Murphy, the brains behind "Glee" and "Nip/Tuck," and his sometime collaborator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, a big muckety-muck at Archie Comics, and whose credits also include The Stand comics for Marvel, HBO's "Big Love," and the 2013 remake of Carrie. It might seem like an odd fit, but it kinda works.

This is notably not a remake as much as it's a sequel, one in which the original movie is a movie based on the real events. Yeah, I know, it's a whole new level of meta. There are many
parallels, and the narration is a nice touch. With "Nip/Tuck" so many years ago, and more than a few seasons of "Glee" since then, it's easy to forget that Ryan Murphy has a very deft hand with suspense and horror.

Watching these two flicks back to back was an intense but entertaining evening of television, two generations of creators giving their take on a supposedly true story. They're both worth a look, more so for horror fans. And don't forget, it might have happened decades ago, but they never did catch the Phantom...

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


Coonskin ~ Up front, folks, this one may be rough, so if you have certain sensitivities, you might want to skip this review. And, as a white writer in a politically correct world, I also feel the need to tread lightly when talking about this 1975 animated feature by Ralph Bakshi. Like I said, it's rough, take a deep breath, and follow me if you dare.

The opening, visually and verbally is strikingly and disturbingly racist. It's a precursor to what is to come, and sets the pace well. I understood what it was, accepted it for its time, and still winced as if physically struck. No matter how much DMX using the N word one listens to, there's just no preparing for this opening. What followed the racist Vaudeville joke told in animated blackface, was also hard to take, but at least it was full of talent and power.

Scatman (Scat Man in the opening credits) Crothers sings the seemingly racist song "Coonskin No More" with liberal use of the N word, but it's an amazing song as well. It's sad that many folks have forgotten what a tremendous talent the man was musically, although he's usually remembered for his acting. After recovering from thinking about how Crothers went from doing "Hong Kong Phooey" to this and then moved on to The Shining, I realized what Bakshi was trying to do, a little song and dance, and a little shock and awe.

This was his attempt to show the black experience, granted from the eyes of a boy who grew up in a black and Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn. Bakshi was creating what he called his own ghetto art, blending the genres of blaxploitation, crime drama, and folk tales with a realistic and unapologetic racism that maybe a lot of the world doesn't want to admit existed, or sadly, still exists. Yeah, I'm putting a fancy spin on it, and despite its truth, it's very hard to watch in 2015.

Coonskin is a mix of animation and live action, owing much to The Song of the South as its characters and lessons are similar. The cast also includes Philip Michael Thomas who later gained fame on "Miami Vice," Pulitzer Prizing winning actor/director/writer Charles Gordone, and the one and only Barry White. The actual story is very seventies, so seventies in fact, I am sure that Quentin Tarantino loves this flick. And he does.

About an hour into Coonskin I realized that I had in fact seen some of it at least before. Doing a little research I learned that it had also been released as Street Fight, which is where I saw a bit, and also Bustin' Out. This is not a great movie, it's not even a good movie. There's a lot going on, a little bit of everything, with very little to hold it together. Some interesting animation, and music, some intriguing commentary on race, but also a lot of the usual crap like sex and drugs that Bakshi throws into everything he does for no reason.

I can't recommend Coonskin, except for the curious, the fans of folks involved, and those with strong stomachs and high tolerance for the politically incorrect. Watch at your own risk.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Why the Mad Men Finale Failed Me

I have loved this show, and still love it quite a bit. I was just left a bit disappointed with the series finale last night. I have nothing against happy endings, or for that matter, open ended endings, or even unhappy endings. As with anything however, it's the journey, not the destination. And of course, only the interesting parts of the journey.

I was happy for Joan, for Roger, for Stan and Peggy, even for Pete. I wished Joan had kept her relationship, and that Peggy joined her in business, but these are small things, and good things. But then there's Don. It always comes down to Don Draper. I'll say it. We all love him, but he's a despicable human being. Don Draper is a monster. Except when he is pitching. At that moment of magic where he is doing his job, we all love him, and that is what we all have tuned in to "Mad Men" to see - the legendary Don Draper pitch.

For much of the season, Don has been a drag on the story, a waste of air time, out of his element, and doing things we neither wanted to see nor wanted him doing. It was the same in last night's finale as he wasted his time, and our time, at that hippie retreat.

Oh, I do get it. Don needed that part of the journey. Without that smile of revelation at the retreat, there would have been no Coca-Cola commercial on the mountaintop, arguably one of the greatest achievements in advertising, and the crowning moment of the real world McCann-Erickson. We are to assume that Don Draper is the engineer of this masterstroke, but man oh man. Didn't we all want to see Don pitch that? That's why I feel more than a little cheated. This was no "Sopranos."

On a side note, did anyone else also see "Happyish" on Showtime last night? They did a slightly different and just plain wrong spin on the famous Coke commercial. I'm really loving that show, and you can hear me talk a bit about it on this week's episode of The GAR! Podcast.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Arrow S03 E23: "My Name Is Oliver Queen"

If you read my review of last week's episode of "The Flash," or saw it, you know that Arrow came to the aid of his costumed friend in Central City to help take down the Reverse-Flash. You also know that Arrow in turn asked for the Flash's help. One would assume that help would come in this, the season finale of "Arrow." It does. And if that's all the help the Flash is going to be, Arrow sooo got the short end of the deal.

At the end of the last episode Team Arrow was left in a dungeon dying of the Alpha and Omega virus, while Oliver and R'as Al Ghul were on their way to Starling City to wipe it out with the virus. The good news is that Malcolm was able to inoculate Team Arrow with a method that would have made the 1966 Batman proud, while the Flash secured the Nanda Parbat headquarters and released our heroes. Then he went home, quickly, but nowhere near as quickly and mysteriously as Team Arrow went home. Are we sure Starling and Tibet aren't like next door to each other? This is getting ridiculous.

Oliver plays his hand on the plane over Starling and turns on R'as, who of course escapes with the virus, and the only parachute. Seriously, is this a joke? The only parachute?? Nevertheless R'as swears vengeance and Oliver and Nyssa crash-land the plane. They join Team Arrow where Oliver gets his ass kicked physically and verbally by Diggle and Felicity. Good.

Hindsight on dumbass Oliver's plans almost always add up to the same problem - trust. Just trust someone, let them in on what is planned. I can't help thinking of that old Woody Woodpecker cartoon where if Woody had only gone to the police in the first place, none of this would have ever happened. If Oliver has only just said a few words to Diggle and Felicity, even as simple as, "Trust me, no matters what happens, or how it looks, just trust me." all of this could have been avoided.

As Team Arrow searches for R'as in Starling they discover what his real plan is. His enemy Damien Darhk is in the city, R'as wants to kill two birds with one stone. Darhk's assistant is portrayed by Christopher Heyerdahl, who played one of the most sinister villains in recent television memory - The Swede from AMC's "Hell on Wheels." This alone made me think that it was really Darhk pretending to be his own assistant. Ah, such a fleeting moment and a sweet cameo. Word is Darhk will be one of the big bads, if not the big bad next season.

There is a considerable amount of resolution this episode, almost as if the series was ending. Diggle leaves over the differences with Oliver, although rumor has it he won't be gone long, with a costume in his future. R'as dies at Oliver's hands, the mantle going to Malcolm, as pre-agreed. Thea is now Speedy, who along with the Black Canary, will be protecting Starling City. Katana has returned to seclusion. Roy is gone, for the moment, and the Atom blew up real good. Oliver and Felicity have driven off for the coast, like they're in the end of Blade Runner, presumably to live happily ever after.

This is not the end however, it's only the end of the season. Stephen Amell has said that Oliver won't be the Arrow any more. That's a bit of misdirection, hinted at when Thea suggested 'Red Arrow' as her codename. Oliver will not be the Arrow any more (and really he can't be in light of Roy taking the rap for him), but he will be Green Arrow. Finally. And as for the Atom, we know he'll be back in "Legends of Tomorrow."

There's a nice shout out to writer Denny O'Neil and artist Neal Adams, as cross streets. They not only created R'as Al Ghul but also redesigned Green Arrow for more relevant times, producing some of the best (in my opinion) stories about both characters. There's also a Marc Andreyko namedrop later, his being the creator of the Kate Spencer version of Manhunter. Here is some reading for later about how one writer thinks they wasted her character. I kinda agree.

For my other reviews of the entire "Arrow" series, click here. And if you'd like to discuss this episode and anything else in the Arrowverse, please join the Arrow Discussion Group on Facebook.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Daredevil S01 E06: Condemned

We begin this episode on the far end of our first real cliffhanger, Daredevil at the scene of the crime and surrounded by the police. It's a superhero staple, especially in the early days of a superhero, and it is also a turning point. From this moment on, once the police become involved, the as-yet-unnamed Daredevil goes from urban legend to real live masked vigilante.

In another of Philip Silvera's wonderful fight sequences, Daredevil takes down several armed cops, wait for it, while handcuffed. Daredevil fight scenes make the viewer cheer, fist pump, and root for the hero. No matter how brutal, they are creative, original, and usually works of cinematic art. And in most cases the hero comes out on top, making one like them more. This is what is needed in superhero television (I'm looking at you, Arrow) and comics more, not misery after misery, but triumph, even if it's a small triumph.

As Daredevil escapes with beaten and wounded Russian boss Vladimir, the Kingpin has blown up all of the Russians' bases of operations, and we start to learn just how much of the police are in Fisk's pocket. Daredevil struggles to keep Vladimir alive so he can get him to tell him where to find Fisk, while the police hunt them both. So this is a bit trickier than the initial hero vs. cops scenario I originally described. The villain owns the cops.

Vondie Curtis-Hall as Ben Urich emerges as the one voice of reason and responsibility in the whole city in flames scenario. He knows there a connection here, we see him trying to put the pieces together, ironically with a deck of cards on a bulletin board - one giant house of cards. There's a nice touch with the corrupt police not just subtly threatening the reporter but pointing out the TV news crew as the meteor to his dinosaurs. He stands strong though, and even the Kingpin seems to know Urich can't be bought. Urich is the one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind.

Cornered in an abandoned warehouse, surrounded by police, as the city burns around them, Daredevil tries to coerce a confession from Vladimir. I laughed out loud when the Russian namedropped Leslie Shumway, Al Capone's accountant, but he's right. That's how you get the big guy, you get the money man. Unfortunately, once that is out in the open, no names from Vladimir of course, all hell breaks loose.

The first encounter between Daredevil and the Kingpin, neither man using their traditional comic book names, yet, if at all, is via police radio, with a very James Bond-ian vibe. It's been done before, but it's still done well here. The villain offers a deal, the hero doesn't take it, and eats the consequences. Shots are fired, a bullet meant for Urich hits one of Fisk's cops, and as corrupt S.W.A.T. enters the warehouse, footage is leaked to the TV news that links the masked vigilante to not only the Russian mob, but also the shootings, and the explosions.

It looks like dark days for Daredevil, but there is one ray of sunshine. Vladimir finally gives him what he wants. Before he makes his last stand with S.W.A.T. So Daredevil can get away, he finally gives the masked vigilante a name - Leland Owlsley.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Avengers Assembled

If you're not tired of me talking about the Avengers, at the end of this post, you just might be.

I'm talking about the film Avengers: Age of Ultron in two places this week. First you can find me and The Bride discussing the film in the Disney-focused Make Mine Magic Podcast right here, and then if you want see me as well as hear me, I am joined by Biff Bam Pop! staffers J.P. Fallavollita, Jason Shayer, and Jim Knipp talking about the movie on the latest episode of the Biff Bam Popcast! that you can check out right here.

Of course you read my review of the film here, my hopes for it here, my reviews of the first Avengers movie then and now, and if you don't know who (or what) Ultron is, I tell you here.

And as sidebars to the film, my reviews of "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" are here and "Marvel's Agent Carter" here. And if that's not enough, my reviews of Disney XD's animated series "Marvel's Avengers Assemble" are here. And if you want to discuss anything Avengers-related, check out the Avengers Forever group on Facebook here.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A Tale of Two Heroines

Two different trailers came out today for two very different projects, the film trailer for the movie version of Jem and the upcoming television series on CBS, "Supergirl."

 These are examples of how Hollywood has taken two already existing projects and given them completely new takes - one getting everything completely wrong, and the other possibly breathing new life into it. I bet you can guess which one is which.

Yeah, I'm a guy, but I'm also a huge "Jem" fan and I can't express how disappointed I was when I saw the above trailer.

 I'm also a big Supergirl fan, mostly of her early seventies stint in Adventure Comics, and while this interpretation is far from that version, I am very interested in seeing it.

 What do you folks think?

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Explosive Generation

This film was brought back to my attention when I saw on the Facebook that my friend Rob Kelly was planning on watching it. A day later I saw that The Works was showing it. Curiosity piqued, I set the DVR and got ready to be dazzled.

As the title might imply, this 1961 black and white 'classic' is all about wild kids growing up too fast. Think more Eddie Haskell, or the Jets and Sharks without knives, as opposed to say Clockwork Orange or Class of 1984. The real selling points of this one however are the pre-Star Trek William Shatner and the post-Bad Seed Patty McCormack. Also look for Edward Platt, The Chief from "Get Smart," as the principal.

Shatner is the 'cool' teacher, and in trying to get the kids to talk about their problems, he invites an open discussion of sex in the classroom. Yeah, reality check, it's 1961. This was brave territory for the time. McCormack, who was a much more believable actress as an evil little girl, is a student with a problem.

All hell breaks loose when the parents get wind of what's been going on in the classroom. They lose their minds and try to put a stop to it. The whole business gets Shatner suspended and the students fight back with a good old-fashioned protest, of course in the days before such things were in vogue.

I dug the jazzy timely score by Hal Borne, who's also done such varied soundtracks for classics like Promises Promises and The Big Store, and later 1989's Family Business. And why yes, that is a baby-faced Beau Bridges as Mark, and the accent-less Stafford Repp, a few years before his Chief O'Hara from "Batman," as a police officer.

And yes, I'd seen this one a few times before, but forgotten. Heck, I had even forgotten I'd given it a quickie review back in 2009. Hopefully this is a bigger better review. Well worth a look.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Arrow S03 E22: "This Is Your Sword"

And just one more thing. R'as Al Ghul, in this incarnation at least, seems to be one of those guys who never finishes ordering in a restaurant. He keeps adding on to the deal made with Oliver. First Oliver has to take over as the Demon's Head, then he has to train, then he has to kill his friends, then he has marry Nyssa, then he has to destroy his city. It never ends.

At least in the opening scene this episode, yet another titled from a Bruce Springsteen song, Oliver briefly expressed surprise that it was Maseo who brought the Alpha Omega virus to R'as. It wasn't that I thought Oliver's training was slipping, it was the first time it occurred to me he might be playing along and have a plan after all. Was this all a ruse to trick R'as?

As far as the Alpha Omega virus goes, perhaps I was wrong with my Superboy paradox theory. It sure looks like Flashback Hong Kong is getting hosed. Has the show ever mentioned New York or Los Angeles in three seasons? For all we know, they might be gone as well. At least Team Arrow didn't believe it happened either.

Team Arrow is getting along as well as they can. I loved Diggle's plan with the gang and letting Black Canary clean them up with her scream. I'm still iffy on the sound the Canary Cry makes. I have always thought it like a very loud musical note or an ultrasonic tone. This sounds sorta like someone's killing a cat. Still it was sweet seeing Canary fight four guys at once. Diggle on the other hand is still freaked by Oliver's transformation and losing control a bit. If Oliver has a plan, I guess he's kept it to himself.

How the hell does Malcolm Merlyn get from Starling City saying goodbye to Thea in one scene to Nanda Parbat in Tibet in the next?? Did the Flash help him? Either way, I called it, moments before it was revealed, that Oliver was playing opossum. I just can't get it through my head why Oliver would cooperate with Malcolm over Team Arrow.

So Malcolm speeds mysteriously back to Starling to try to convince Team Arrow that Oliver is faking being R'as' heir and has a plan. Naturally they won't believe a liar, sociopath, and super-villain they know - so he brings in a future super-heroine they don't know - Katana. Somehow, her, they believe. How I'm supposed to believe Ferris Air offers such frequent flights to Tibet however...

The mid-episode fight between Team Arrow and the League of Assassins was pretty awesome. I would have liked more of Katana, the Atom, and the Black Canary in a mask, but I got was good. And John Barrowman was in exceptional fighting prime as well as the Magician. Katana's costume, even though it's roughly the New 52 version, looks great. I hope she stays around for a while now that she is finally here.

Meanwhile Thea goes to be with Roy, living undercover as Jason in an auto shop in Monument Point. Is Roy really gone, and will Thea finally become Speedy now? Comics readers might remember Monument Point is a city of secrets that once headquartered the Justice Society of America for a time in their last days. This isn't the only comics reference in this episode. Other than Ferris which has become a mainstay of the Arrowverse, there's also I believe the first mention of Nyssa's last name, Raatko, and dressing her in one of Neal Adams' Talia outfits.

This is quite a cliffhanger ending, both nail-biting and completely diffused as well. I mean, come on, they're not going to kill off 90% of the cast. I suspect Katana inoculated everyone before they got to Nanda Parbat. The real cliffhanger, is how is Team Arrow going to get away from R'as and the League of Assassins?

Next: "My Name Is Oliver Queen!"

For my other reviews of the entire "Arrow" series, click here. And if you'd like to discuss this episode and anything else in the Arrowverse, please join the Arrow Discussion Group on Facebook.