Arrow: Dark Waters – And the Best Villain Award Goes To…

If awards were given out for the Best Villain in a television it could almost be a tie between the two DC shows on CW, Arrow versus The Flash. In Dark Waters, which should have been called “Darhk Waters” (missed opportunity chaps) Damian may just edge out Mark Hamill’s villainous The Trickster on that other DC show.

Barry Allan and Oliver Queen

If awards were given out for the Best Villain in a television it could almost be a tie between the two DC shows on CW, Arrow versus The Flash. In Dark Waters, which should have been called “Darhk Waters” (missed opportunity chaps) Damian may just edge out Mark Hamill’s villainous  The Trickster on that other DC show.

Both shows had a pretty grim seasonal offering, Barry Allan besieged by Weather Wizard (Liam McIntyre) as well as The Trickster (Hamill) but it looks like Captain Cold (Wentworth Millerwill bat for the good guys. While the defection of one of the bad guys could help turn the tide, the episode was still fairly glum overall. A real change of pace for the lighter side of superheroes.

On Arrow (just a point here, should not the old title now be modified to match Oliver Queen’s new moniker on the show, just a thought…) Ollie decides to “out” Damian (Neal McDonough) as Star City’s current “big bad” and Darhk is not too overjoyed, suffice to say that Queen will not be on the “holiday” card list this year. 

After his naming and shaming stunt, Merlyn (John Barrowman) stops by to warn daughter Thea (Willa Holland) and at the Christmas/Holiday party, Felicity provides some comic relief, but only a little, when she catches her mother in a clench with Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne). 

Afterward she confesses to Oliver that she and her mother found the engagement ring and as she questions why Queen never finished his earlier proposal, Darhk gatecrashes the party, and kidnaps, Felicity, Thea and Diggle (David Ramsey).   Malcolm helps Queen, along with Laurel’s dad Quentin and for a split second, it looks like Damian has been eliminated with extreme prejudice. 

Of course this is Damian Darhk and his muttering of some, obviously evil magic words, means that the head of HIVE is alive to be naughty another day. Before the big bang, we are treated to the more violent version of Queen, where he beats up a few ghosts  to learn where Damian is hiding out with his loved ones.

There are some standout moments. For instance Felicity’s response to Oliver during their talk at the party:

“You are not the boss of me.”

Felicity Smoak doing what she does best, the words, the attitude and the expert delivery.

Diggle gets a memorable line when talking to his “ghost” brother:

Diggle: “I did, until I met your cult leader, Damien Darhk.

Andy: [Scoffs] “It’s not a cult.”

Diggle: “The man has people, regular people, honest people, I’m thinking, so brainwashed they’re willing to die for him…Cult.”

Malcolm Merlyn also gets a shining  moment when he explains with one sentence how he got a HIVE phone:

“I’m Ra’s al Ghul.”

Of course the biggest moment is that “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” death of Felicity Smoak.  Shocking? Yes.  Although there is at least one “duh” moment. The car that Felicity and Oliver are in  is stopped by a load of ghost vehicles. Before the minions of Darhk shoot the car to rag doll ribbons, Oliver asks “What’s going on?”

Granted, he has just gotten, arguably, the hottest girl in the geek-verse to say she will marry him, but really??  Shouldn’t his “Green Arrow senses been tingling?”  Okay a little facetious, but the point is, even the news that the girl he should have known was never going to say no to the big question saying yes, should not have made him that unaware.

Complaints aside, after the initial reaction of seeing a bloody (very little actually) and seemingly dead Felicity (points to consider, it is embarrassing to suddenly shout “No” in a crowed fast food business even if it is half empty) in Oliver’s arms, common sense took over.  While the show’s makers may decide to kill off Smoak, it is highly unlikely.

Apart from Thea, and discounting Laurel who becomes less attractive each and every time she does the Canary thing (mouth wide open and head swiveling from side to side)  Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) is the big pull.  Posh totty, geeky crumpet, or fill in phrase of choice here, Rickards emotes that intelligent naivety and nerdy excitement at being part of the world of superheroes that makes her beyond endearing. 

So it makes no real sense to kill off Felicity.

Back to Damian Darhk;  he is easily the best thing about this season.  Mainly because this grand villain is being played by the brilliantly disturbing McDonough, but also because Damian is bad…to his core.  Dark Waters ends with Oliver holding a “dead” Felicity and Darhk entering silently in a room full of Christmas cheer.

Smiling, in what passes as tenderly for this award winning villain, he moves into the room and greets the woman and little girl who have been decorating the tree. A few other sites have opined that this means that Darhk has a weakness.  The only problem with that theory is that one gets the feeling that the HIVE leader would give up that family in a heartbeat.

Both The Flash and Arrow were suitably dark this week.  Mark Hamill’s The Trickster was marvelous fun, in that very sick and twisted way that the villain has, but this is a reprisal of sorts. Hamill is a master at these theatrically spectacular baddies, and he has been The Trickster (as in the voice of) in the Justice League (2002-2006) and actually played the villain in the first The Flash in 1991.

While not taking any points away for a potential “lack of originality” The Trickster is, after all, The Trickster as Mark Hamill plays him, regardless of which stage he is on. McDonough as Darhk, however is playing the part for the first time.

Granted, the actor does specialize in a certain brand of “smarmy” evil and good-natured creepiness.  This may well be why his villain could just squeak past Hamill’s joking bad boy.  But, what do you think? Does Damian Darhk blow away The Trickster as villain of the year in Arrow?

Or…

Does Damian only really knock it out of the evil park in Dark Waters (not to beat a dead horse here, but it really should have been Dhark Waters…).

We have plenty of time now that both the shows are on hiatus for the season and will not be back until the new year.  Let us know who you think wears the big bad shoes the best…And try not to think about poor Felicity “dying” too much…

Arrow/The Flash Crossover…Again Part 2 (Review)

Part two of the Arrow/The Flash crossover once again proves to be fun and clever. With a reference to rival the comics verse of Marvel “A bunch of superheroes in a farmhouse? I feel like I’ve seen that in a movie before.” Thea and her Avengers: Age of Ultron reference for the win…

Screen shot Hawkman and Hawkgirl The Flash/Arrow

Part  two of the Arrow/The Flash crossover once again proves to be fun and clever. With a reference to rival the comics verse of Marvel “A bunch of superheroes in a farmhouse? I feel like I’ve seen that in a movie before.” Thea and her Avengers: Age of Ultron reference for the win…

Comic verse references aside, this second part of the Legends of Yesterday episode was pretty intense. It also featured a pretty impressive vocabulary. For an epic end to a tale of reincarnation and 4,000 year old revenge,  the conclusion featured time-travel, everyone dying, except Barry Allen, Cisco losing the girl, Arrow losing Felicity and getting her back and Thea’s father, Malcolm Merlyn proving that he really is a stinker, despite pretending to be on the side of the good guys.

In Arrow Oliver follows up the sighting of former girlfriend Samantha and that boy he spotted in the coffee shop at the end of The Flash.  The boy’s name is William and Queen gets a hair and has Barry do a DNA analysis.  He is William’s father and he approaches Samantha (Anna Hopkins) who reveals the million dollar offer that Oliver’s mother made.

William’s mother makes Oliver promise to tell no one about his son, including Felicity.  Unfortunately, Ms. Smoak already knows that the boy and she angrily leaves Queen prior to the big fight with Savage.

Keeping with the dark nature of Arrow second half of the cross over was pretty grim. Khufu tries to get Kendra back into Chay-Ara mode, Cisco tries to make some “anti-Staff of Horus” gauntlets, which do not work, and when the group, sans part of the team, take on Vandal Savage Kendra fails to channel her inner priestess and all of them die.

The Flash flees ahead of the death wave and meets himself, something that happens at the start of the episode when he first meets with Oliver to plan the Savage battle. Barry realizes that he has traveled back in time and speaks to Cisco about it. As this has happened before, both men are concerned about negative reactions to the travel and messing with time.

Allen tells Oliver about everyone dying and the Felicity fight being the reason that Queen was not in the game. Barry tells Cisco to speak to Kendra and he manages to get her back into the Chay-Ara frame of mind needed. She also remembers something that will help them to defeat Savage.

The battle this time around ends with Vandal dead (a pile of dust in the middle of the warehouse floor) and both Khufu and Kendra are a live, along with everyone else. Oliver manages to keep both Samantha happy and Felicity on top of being able to visit with his son.

After the battle, Cisco and Kendra share a moment, and a kiss. Felicity and Oliver are still together but she seems pensive. Barry worries about the time travel and any ramifications and it appears he is right to be concerned. Malcolm comes and collects some of Savage’s bone dust while reciting the “immortal’s” hate line:

“Your hate will be everlasting. Your enmity will never die. It will follow them from this life into the next, and the next… And the next. You owe me one, buddy.”

As mentioned in the first part of the Arrow/The Flash crossover episode, everyone kills it in this one.  It is interesting to note that Anna Hopkins seems doomed to keep playing disagreeable and angsty characters. Her Samantha is not as annoying as the character she played in SyFy’s Defiance, but she is close enough to be an ethereal twin to the science fiction lawkeeper.

Arrow airs Wednesdays on CW. Tune in to see just how dark things can get in Oliver Queen’s world.

The Flash/Arrow Crossover…Again

You have to love a good crossover. The most recent The Flash and Arrow crossover, Legends of Yesterday, proves that once again these two DC heroes are an excellent double act. This episode features a grumpy Green Arrow (at least at first) and an Immortal who is hell bent on killing Cisco’s new girlfriend Kendra, aka Hawkgirl, aka Chay-Ara.

Hawkman and Hawkgirl The Flash/Arrow

You have to love a good crossover.  The  most recent The Flash and Arrow crossover, Legends of Yesterday, proves that once again these two DC heroes are an excellent double act. This episode features a grumpy Green Arrow (at least at first) and an Immortal who is hell bent on killing Cisco’s new girlfriend Kendra, aka Hawkgirl, aka Chay-Ara. It also borrows a little from (or it could be the other way around, we are talking Hollywood here) The Mummy franchise.

In the franchise, with Brendan FraserRachel Weisz and Arnold Vosloo, two character were reincarnated lovers. This “The Flash/Arrow” crossover storyline also bears a huge resemblance to the plot of Hancock where Will Smith and Charlize Theron are two “aliens” with superpowers who are drawn to one another in order to self destruct. Very similar to Khufu and Chay-ara…

In Legends of Yesterday, Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) an immortal who suddenly shows up at Central City, starts increasing the body count while searching for someone. This happens to be Cisco’s new girlfriend Kendra (Ciara Renée) and another superhero with previous connections with Kendra; “Hawkman” aka Carter Hall, aka Khufu (played by Falk Hentschel) shows up to save the woman and reveal who she really is.

Barry, helps his pal Ramon out by promising to protect Kendra from this new threat, but since The Flash is having speed issues, he needs to be faster to defeat season two’s big bad, Zoom, and cannot do it on his own, he asks Oliver Queen to help out.

Standout Moments:

Felicity Smoak giving herself a verbal pat on the back for the magnetic arrow “gag” and annoying Oliver as he can hear every word:

Felicity (mimicking Oliver): “Felicity, the magnetic-arrow gag will never work.” [chuckles] Yes, it will, my love, because I am really smart. And guess what, Oliver. It did work.”

Oliver: “Felicity, honey, it’s a little hard to fight with you doing that in my ear.

Felicity: “Oh!  I totally forgot that this was an open line. Keep doing what you’re doing… Make smart decisions.

Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough) has put a death grip on Green Arrow, chuckling evilly as he drains the life from Queen, and The Flash zips in and rescues not just Oliver but all of Team Arrow. Darhk is delighted at this turn of events:

(Darhk laughing) “What was that?”

These two scenes, over in Arrow-land, aka Star City,  actually ruled in the stakes of comedic moments. Of course Felicity totally rocks in terms of great delivery and clear delight when she is proven right…in anything.

Cisco calling,  referencing the 1986 Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery fantasy film Highlander, when Savage shows up for Kendra:

“Kendra’s not going anywhere with you, Highlander.”

The whole storyline of an immortal baddy who tracks down a pair of doomed lovers whom he has to kill in order to become even more invincible is entertaining and does contain at least one amusing interaction.  Khufu explains that Savage has killed him and Kendra 206 times and the captured Hawkman then  tells The Flash and Green Arrow group how he alone can  save Kendra.

Cisco is a tad cynical:

Cisco: “You’re 0 for 206, and you still think you’re her best bet, hmm?”

It goes without saying that Vandal Savage and Carter Hall are all on par as denizens of the DC verse as are the backstories behind their characters.   As usual it is very easy to get caught up in all the action.

Honorable mentions:

Barry Allen’s reaction to Malcom Merlyn entering the room, from the shadows twice,  “Is that the only way this guy knows how to enter a room?” This reaction to the second time Merlyn (John Barrowman) “appears” is on par with the first time he suddenly shows up.

Allen: “Who the hell is this?”

Thea/Speedy: “It’s my dad…”

Merlyn, Speedy’s daddy dearest, shows up while Carter is explaining the whole “Vandal Savage” backstory and he reveals that if the Immortal gets the Staff of Horus, he will be practically unstoppable.  Hawkman also tells Kendra that she needs to reveal her true self that that the only way to do that is to fall to her death.

Somewhat understandably no one thinks this is a good idea. Although Oliver tells Barry that he believes that Kendra should do just that.  Later, after the gang split up (Oliver and Allen head out to stop Savage from getting the staff) Kendra decides to jump on her own and her wings suddenly appear.

Cisco is excited to the nth degree that his new girlfriend is “Hawkgirl” and Khufu now believes that they have a chance to defeat Vandal Savage once and for all. Back in the lab, Velocity 6 is finished, with a little help from Dr. Snow. Patty shoots Dr. Wells and Jay Garrick save’s the Earth two man’s life after injecting himself with a little of the serum.

The “other” flash warns Snow to keep the serum away from Barry and Wells thanks Jay for saving his life.  Back in Oliver’s turf, the gang fail to kill Savage. The Flash and Green Arrow, and the rest of the group head back to Central City, where the Immortal has returned. In the coffeeshop, Oliver sees a familiar face.

CW has utilized the Arrow/The Flash crossover several times and these two heroes work very well together.  As previous teaming of the two has shown, not only do Stephen Amell and Grant Gustin have splendid chemistry together on screen (the two really feel like siblings with a great give and take attitude) but the casts from each show also work very well together. 

The Flash airs Wednesdays on CW, Arrow on Tuesdays. Tune in and see how long it will take the two heroes to defeat Vandal Savage.

 

Arrow: Lost Souls – Hereeeee’s The Atom & It’s Not You It’s Me (Review)

Felicity Smoak getting closer to the Atom

Finally, Ray Palmer gets his message to Felicity Smoak and here is the Atom we have all been waiting for. Add to Arrow’s unfortunate realization that according to Ms. Smoak, “it’s not you, it’s me…” this episode does two things very well.  It brings Palmer’s mini scientist back to  the fore and showcases the splendid talent of  Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity. 

It has to be said that, in terms of the new shows dealing with all things “DC,” Arrow has always been a little Darhk. (Sorry could not resist) with things taking a turn for the worse with the actual introduction of dastardly Damien.  Now we have Ray Palmer back from the dead, so to speak, and a great performance from Rickards as the new pin up for every geek and nerd in the world, Felicity Smoak.

The episode has a lot going for it, not least of which is Emily’s completely selling Felicity as the  “thinking man’s crumpet” of the year.  This gal Smoak has got it all, beauty, brains, mad organization skills and the ability to quip at a moments notice, what is not to love?  Add to these instantly addictive traits the fact  that you know this heroine would look equally good in a swimsuit as she would a business one, and you have a win/win situation.

After the last episode’s tepid introduction of Matt Ryan as Constantine, where the actor was sadly underused, this week saw things escalate in the verse. We have The Atom and we have Felicity Smoak, “I am CEO hear me roar,” hitting her stride with quips, comebacks and above all else, a true sense of self.

Her “It’s not you, it’s me” speech to Oliver, although in reality it was much, much more than that, allowed Rickards to kill this episode. Her admission that she allowed herself to become lost in Queen and, as she tells Oliver, “I am not that girl,” shows heretofore unseen depths to this character.

Felicity has always been good for a chuckle or two as she grows in confidence and her excitement at battling bad guys can only be matched by The Flash‘s Cisco (Played so adorably by Carlos Valdes). Although, Cisco has changed in terms of team dynamic with his new power…

There were some comedic moments in Arrow: Lost Souls. Oliver Queen secretly inviting mother Smoak to visit and for dinner was good for some mirth and allowed the talented Charlotte Ross to step in as Donna, Felicity’s blonde bombshell mom.

(Ross has come a long way since her Days of Our Lives (1987-1991) role as Eve Baron Donovan and she was instantly engaging as Felicity’s mother.)

In comparing Smoak to Cisco, it should also be pointed out that her enthusiasm has not waned, just as Ramon’s has not faltered, even with his new power. The two really are ethereal twins. She also likes naming things, although in her world it is the “code names” and not the villainous new meta-humans encountered by the good guys she likes to govern.

Despite being prepared for the emergence of Ray Palmer (Brandon Routhas The Atom, the sense of excitement at the discovery that Felicity’s old boss, and former squeeze, was alive and being held against his will by Damien Darhk  (Neal McDonough) was pretty noteworthy. Sidenote:  Seriously, how creepy was that shot of Darhk’s huge head peering down at Palmer in the box while he was speaking to Smoak? Shudders to the nth. 

A combination of great effects and great moments for this episode; where Rickards wins the geeky girl next door award for the ages and Brandon Routh proves he was the best choice to be The Atom, make this an epic episode to watch. (Question: Does anyone else think that if Tom Cruise ever lost his pipes that Routh could do voice over work for the Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation star? Answers in the comment section below…)

Arrow has moved away, just a nudge, from its innate “darhkness” (Sorry.) to allow Felicity to grow and evolve as a character. While Oliver may have been disturbed initially by Smoak’s “it’s not you it’s me” spiel, by the end Felicity has chosen him, as they bring out the inner bits when they are together.

This series airs Wednesdays on CW and continues to make the DC verse a great place to visit, even without any cross over action from The Flash. 

Arrow: Haunted – Hello John Constantine and Ray Palmer (Review)

Matt Ryan as John Constantine

It really is only because Matt Ryan, as John Constantine, is on Arrow for the Haunted episode that MikesFilmTalk is writing about the show.  Not that the CW series is unappreciated, Arrow is, like The Flash, a firm favorite. Unfortunately, CW, like CBS were overly snobby when divvying out press access to their stable of shows.   Regardless of the fact that this site is edited and published by a journo, the networks rather snottily explained that this little site was too small to have access to either screeners or photo’s from episodes of their shows.

Regardless of the highly annoyingly  snobbish attitude to sites that are not IGN or Huffington Post, or fill in name of “large” money making site here,  the inclusion of Ryan’s splendid presence as Constantine made both watching and writing about episode 405 almost fait accompli.

It is, perhaps, more than a little annoying that this was one of the least impressive episodes of Arrow thus far.  Sara Lance, whose time in the Lazarus Pit has allowed her body to return sans soul, is killing bad people all over town. Although she has also been attacking Thea “lookalikes” as well, she has yet to actually kill any of the short-haired Thea-ites.

Speaking of the attacks on Thea, aka Speedy, Sara not having a soul allowed her to radically kick the Queen sibling’s butt ragged.  This young lady, Thea Queen,  who has severe anger management issues and who can barely restrain herself from killing the baddies around town gets beaten to a pulp by the recently returned dead girl.

The gang, who are now working together for a greater Star City,  set up a trap for Sara to stop her from harming Thea and to save the criminal element from being killed, after all thugs are people too.  Cue the backstory of Queen meeting John Constantine on (drumroll please) the island.

As is typical of an Arrow episode there is much too-ing and fro-ing from present to past and the overall presence of John Constantine is kept to a minimum.  Cutting to the chase, Constantine helps to save Sara by bringing Oliver and Laurel into the netherworld to rescue her captured soul, kept in a netherworld version of the Lazarus Pit, and to come back out unscathed.

There is another subplot about Diggle’s brother Andrew who apparently was as pure as the driven slush before being murdered by HIVE.

As interesting as this all is, let us look at Matt Ryan’s reappearance as Constantine, away from NBC and their inability to understand what is good for their own network (Can you say “The Player?”) who cancelled Ryan’s brilliant portrayal of the cigarette smoking “hero.”

Seeing the Welsh actor put on the trench coat and tie again, was fun…

But…

To this viewer, Ryan’s Constantine in Arrow looked different. He also sounds different. John’s British drawl has been “cleaned up” and sounds much less “real” than it did on the NBC series.  And…Apart from once on the island, when Constantine asks if anyone has a cigarette, the character does not light up once and John looks, for lack of a better word, too clean.

The lighting or filters used for filming Arrow made Ryan look much less “rough and ready” and more like a plastic version of his character.  In essence, the long wait for Matt Ryan to turn up as Constantine was a bit of a let down.

About the network who killed Constantine the series, there is one moment where the character has apparently asked for a peacock feather, a sly dig at NBC whose logo is still a spread of peacock feathers, which John then uses to scratch his back.  That was amusing but not too satisfying and there was no groundwork  laid for Ryan to return. After saving Sara, Constantine recommends to Queen that they consider their debt’s to one another paid off, “let’s say we’re even.”

Still, it was good to see the actor who brought John Constantine to life so convincingly return, even if it was on a snobby network that still believes that Supernatural is the shizzle in terms of fantasy television.   Another bone of contention was that when Matt talked as his character he did more reverse English magic incantation chanting  than having any  actual conversation.

This may have been a good thing since the accent was so toned down, it seems that on Arrow, or CW, that saying mate a lot indicates an English accent…

It also should be noted that Arrow does continue to entertain and that Queen’s evolution into the Green Arrow was a nice touch.  All in all, there could have been more Matt Ryan, Neal McDonough and Emily Bett Rickards in this episode.  After all there is no such thing as too much Constantine, or Damien Darhk and definitely there can never be enough Felicity Smoak.

Of course the big jaw dropping reveal is that Ray Palmer is alive, although apparently not well, as his final message tells Felicity that he is in trouble.  Arrow airs Wednesdays on CW, tune in and see what happens next now that Ms. Smoak has learned that Ray is alive alive-oh.