Thursday, February 23, 2017

Arrow S05 E14: The Sin-Eater

After some rather unorthodox episodes, it looks as if we might be back in the groove of superhero action again on "Arrow." Coming attractions indicate a trio of terror have escaped from Iron Heights - China White, Cupid, and Lady Cop - and they're coming for our heroes. Not necessarily for revenge, but for profit, they're after Tobias Church's secret stash.

Of course on "Arrow," things are never that easy. First the Prometheus plot is reasserted by the discovery of the villain's mother in Opal City, a step that may lead to learning his true identity. What I don't get is why does Oliver go as the mayor of Star City? Why would the mayor do this himself? Why not the police? Mom refuses to help, maybe she sees how odd the situation is, and/or she's in league with her son.

While I'm digging some of the new tech, like Felicity's data sucker and Green Arrow's Dick Tracy watch, I was disturbed by the violence in this episode. Has Liza Warner really become as evil and bloodthirsty as her two criminal cohorts? As someone who fondly remembers the single Lady Cop comic, this is not cool. And the show that so firmly was anti-violence last episode seems to have forgotten that stance.

Susan Williams meanwhile knows Oliver is Green Arrow. This isn't a Lois Lane thing, as she has undeniable proof. When confronted, Oliver denies it. Thea asks Felicity to frame Susan for plagiarism and discredit her. As expected, it also kinda sours Oliver and Susan's relationship.

Quentin and Green Arrow are no match for the three ladies. As Warner tries to rationalize her move from just rogue cop to sociopathic killer (I'm not buying it either), the police try to apprehend Green Arrow for the murder of Detective Billy Malone. So now Green Arrow is in the same position as the Arrow was, wanted as a cop killer.

I was very impressed with how Oliver confronted the police captain and explained Green Arrow's position. I couldn't feeling proud and thinking that our boy has finally grown up. Then he treats Thea like crap and runs into danger without his team. Sigh. Oliver will never learn, never.

I did like that the captain also suspects that Oliver and Green Arrow are one and the same. I am reminded of a time in the comics that despite the mask and costume, everyone in the city knew Oliver was Green Arrow. It's not rocket science, and his beard was rather unique. Why not try it on TV? It could save Susan's job at the very least.

For my other reviews of the entire "Arrow" series, click here. And if you'd like to discuss this episode, anything else in the Arrowverse, or anything in the Marvel or DC television or cinematic universes, please join the Marvel DC Movies TV group on Facebook.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Arrow S05 E13: Spectre of the Gun

"Arrow" is in its fifth year. I've not only been watching it, but also doing this review/recap thing the whole time. Sometimes it's been pretty violent, the suicide of Oliver's father in the very first episode immediately springs to mind as fairly intense, but I've never seen a warning in an episode before now.

At the start of "Spectre of the Gun" the following message was posted: Tonight's episode of ARROW is rated TV-14 LV. It includes mature themes, language, and violence, which may not be suitable for all audience members. Viewer discretion is advised. Wow. More intense than Robert Queen eating a bullet, consistent gunplay, occasional torture, and constant arrows to chests? I wasn't thrilled, but I was intrigued.

As the episode opens, a shooter attacks the mayor's office, killing seven, wounding dozens including Adrian Chase. The sequence is pretty intense admittedly, and triggers flashbacks for Rene. Beyond impromptu gun control and gun violence discussions amongst Team Arrow, which seem rather hypocritical based on their own methods, there is a steady theme of why things like happen and how to prevent it from happening again. I do not disagree with the content, but I resent it as entertainment.

Essentially the flashbacks are the secret origin of Wild Dog. He is the product of gun violence, his wife having been murdered, and fighting fire with fire, he uses guns to do what he does. It's a vicious, violent, and hypocritical cycle. Gun violence begets gun violence and ultimately leads to the creation of Wild Dog. And the shooter is in the same boat, his family dead, and a gun in his hands.

When the shooter attacks the hospital, Oliver is able to talk him down, and later he pushes gun legislation. I have to wonder how does that affect Team Arrow's use of weapons, especially the guns? On the superhero side of the story, Green Arrow encounters Vigilante again and he doesn't seem all that worse for wear. Could Vigilante not be Adrian Chase? This one was more than a little preachy, but at least it was a one and done.

For my other reviews of the entire "Arrow" series, click here. And if you'd like to discuss this episode, anything else in the Arrowverse, or anything in the Marvel or DC television or cinematic universes, please join the Marvel DC Movies TV group on Facebook.

Next: The Sin-Eater!

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Arrow S05 E12: Bratva

If I'm being honest, most of this episode bored me. It's the culmination of a subplot that bored me taken control of an entire episode. General Walker who had betrayed John Diggle and had him arrested has escaped custody and gone rogue. Learning that Walker has gone to Russia to sell his stolen nuke to Markovian terrorists, most of Team Arrow has pursued him.

While it was nice to see the civilian KGBeast again, the rest of the A plot bored me. Back in Star City we see the returns of Quentin Lance from rehab and Susan Williams as well. For laughs, Wild Dog is left behind to help Quentin prep for a press conference. This comic relief is a detriment to both characters.

The only compelling sequences in this episode, and they are far too short comparatively, concern Oliver's early pre-pilot adventures as the Arrow being trained by Talia. This idea does conjure certain questions, like what happened to Talia in the Arrowverse? Where did she go? Is she still alive? What would she make of the Green Arrow and company? And in a world without Batman, how does Oliver fit in her life?

In the end, I have to confess some disappointment that John did not kill Walker, especially after letting Dinah kill Sonus last time. I liked seeing exactly how powerful Ragman is and wish we could have seen more of that. I hate that the nuke neutralized the rags' powers. Perhaps we'll see Ragman as a powerless crimefighter, but it won't be the same.

I dislike how the showrunners have automatically pushed Oliver and Dinah together so quickly. I mean, it's not just weird, it's creepy. Although at least they salvaged the Rene and Quentin relationship by retconning a past between them. And our ending stinger has Susan suspecting Oliver of being Green Arrow, a cliche I can only hope will be spun better than expected. A solid disappointment this week.

For my other reviews of the entire "Arrow" series, click here. And if you'd like to discuss this episode, anything else in the Arrowverse, or anything in the Marvel or DC television or cinematic universes, please join the Marvel DC Movies TV group on Facebook.

Next: Spectre of the Gun!

Friday, February 03, 2017

Daredevil S02 E09: Seven Minutes in Heaven

In the last episode of "Daredevil," we witnessed several revelations, not the least of which was the Punisher's cliffhanger meeting with the Kingpin.  One of the others was just more disturbing than dramatic.  After fighting to release Elektra from under Stick's wing, Matt finally sees her true nature - she's a sociopathic killer.  Love can't change that kind of stuff usually, at least not in the rough and tumble soap opera world of superheroics. 

As we open, it appears this opening sequence at least will go in a different direction, picking up from the end of last season with the incarceration of Vincent D'onofrio's Wilson Fisk.  He is advised by his lawyer to keep quiet, keep his head down, and remembering his performance last season, that's D'onofrio's golden range, silent and menacing. 

When challenged and warned by the 'kingpin' of the prison, an inmate named Dutton played by perennial bad guy William Forsythe, Fisk's instincts kick in and he attempts a coup.  He moves all of his last resources to gain an inside posse, bribe guards, and eventually bring the Punisher to him - bringing us up to date with the criminal mastermind.

Whether it's true or not, Fisk intimates to Frank Castle that Dutton orchestrated the murder of his family, and offers him a chance at closure.  Of course such a thing would benefit Fisk.  Kingpin plays the Punisher like a harp, and although Frank does get in one shot, calling him a 'has-been mob boss,' Fisk is clearly in control here. 

Meanwhile, Matt is busy breaking up.  First there was Karen, who over the last two episodes he subtly and indirectly kicked to the curb in unloving and uncaring fashion.  Now, after fighting for her freedom from Stick, he changes his mind as an afterthought and can't handle her being a sociopath who enjoys killing.  Seriously, this is the first time he's noticed that quirk??

So it's no surprise when Matt breaks up with Foggy too, not caring about either the friendship or the law firm.  Sure, we're watching from the omnipotent outside, but hasn't it occurred to anyone what Matt is really doing?  He's cutting people he cares about out of life, like someone preparing to commit suicide.  Does he really consider going after The Hand a suicide mission? 

Karen, with the law firm in limbo, is becoming more and more involved with the New York Bulletin, Ben Urich's old stomping grounds since Netflix can't use the Daily Bugle.  Her investigative skills have won her the attention of Ben's old editor, Michael Ellison, and he's looking to groom her for a job.  She's that good, but I miss Ben.  Great actor, great character, unnecessary death. 

After a trip to see the medical examiner whose testimony was trashed by Elektra, some pieces start to come together.  Ellison offers up Ben's old office for Karen to work in.  Seriously, it's been untouched for how long?  And how old is that bottle of Pepto-Bismol??  On the desk there's a file on Karen. Last season there was some hint of a dark secret in her past.  In the comics, her father was the super-villain Death's-Head, but here it appears she may have accidentally killed her brother. 

In prison, the Punisher gets his seven free minutes, referencing the episode title with demented glee, with Dutton.  Before Castle mortally wounds him, Dutton tells him of another player who was pulling the strings the day his family were killed - someone called the Blacksmith.  Now there is a Marvel villain called Blacksmith, but he's Skrull, and I really doubt that's where this is going. 

After Dutton, Fisk covers his ass and tries to have the Punisher killed by opening all of the cells in Dutton's block.  It's a free-for-all to kill Castle. Much like last season's hallway fight and the stair fight earlier this season, and even the arrow in the chest combat last episode, it seems like the show wants to keep one-upping itself in fight sequences.  The Punisher taking on and beating a dozen or so inmates is a good attempt. 

Of course when Frank is brought before Fisk later, there's another beatdown that the Punisher is not on the easy end of.  I was never fond of the Kingpin/Daredevil matching as I always considered Kingpin a Spider-Man villain, at least originally, but based on the performances in this episode, I could dig Fisk as a Punisher foe, maybe in the spin-off series? 

The Kingpin decides that the Punisher would be of more use to him on the outside than on the inside, and arranges for Castle to walk free.  That can't be good.  We close on Fisk, hospital bedside with Dutton, eating his dinner, waiting for him to drown in his own blood.  Chilling. 

In the background of everything else, Daredevil makes a strike on The Farm, a Hand facility.  There he finds children in cages with their blood being pumped from them.  It's pretty horrific.  There's also a ninja who nearly beats Daredevil to death.  As he escapes with a pod, possibly containing Black Sky, he unmasks.  It's Nobu Yoshioka

Daredevil gasps, as do the viewers, "you're dead!"  To which Nobu simply states, "There's no such thing," and disappears into a downward elevator. Cue closing credits.  Well, Stick did say they'd discovered the secret of immortality.  How can Matt stop The Hand, when he can't even beat one of their ninjas?  With Matt alone, and Elektra, the Punisher, and Nobu all on the loose, these last four episodes should be interesting...

Next: The Man in the Box!

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Arrow S05 E11: Second Chances

We open this episode of "Arrow" three years ago in Central City, the night of the particle accelerator explosion that created the Flash and dozens of other metahumans. Some thugs have kidnapped and are torturing two cops, one of them, Tina Boland, was spotted at the end of our last episode demonstrating sonic powers like the Black Canary of the comics. One guess how she got that way.

In the present Team Arrow is looking for a replacement for the late Laurel, a new Black Canary. No matter how awesome the candidates the others come up with, Oliver shoots them down, saying they're not up to the impossible standard Laurel set. Seriously, folks, was Laurel that good? I mean really, if we're being honest, there were episodes where she didn't even appear or speak, let alone suit up and fight.

Finally Curtis brings up an urban legend with sonic powers, Tina, who's kicking ass and saving lives. The only thing she doesn't have is blond hair, but one could fix that with a wig, just like in the comics. That's cool and all, but to make her a blonde... isn't that a bit weirdly obsessive? Just saying.

While Felicity meets a hacker groupie and Flashback Oliver gets help against Kovar from the Batman-less Arrowverse's version of Talia Al Ghul, the rest of Team Arrow pursue Tina Borland to Hub City. She wants nothing to do with joining Green Arrow's little club to replace his dead girlfriend.

While there and taking steady burger breaks, the three heroes - Green Arrow, Wild Dog, and Mr. Terrific - not wanting to take no for an answer get mixed up in Tina's war on drug lord Sean Sonus, who killed her partner. Sonus also received metahuman powers from the particle accelerator explosion, to create vertigo in his victims. In the comics, he's known as Dischord, and in the Arrowverse, he's actually the third or fourth meta to have that power, after Count Vertigo and the Top.

In the end, Tina kills Sonus, presumably ruining her chances to join Team Arrow, and yet does any way, revealing her real name is Dinah Drake, the actual maiden name of the Golden Age Black Canary in the comics. Per the episode title, she gets a second chance.

Elsewhere, John is seemingly exonerated using information obtained from the hacktivist group Helix. And Flashback Oliver is given the tools to create his Arrow identity by Talia. New beginnings.

For my other reviews of the entire "Arrow" series, click here. And if you'd like to discuss this episode, anything else in the Arrowverse, or anything in the Marvel or DC television or cinematic universes, please join the Marvel DC Movies TV group on Facebook.

Next: Bratva!