Arrow: The Recruits – Back to Basics (Review)

Arrow Season Five Logo

Season five of Arrow has, thankfully, gone back to letting the Green Arrow take on the mantle of Mr. Grumpy hero versus the nice chap who wounding the bad guys.  The body count has gone up and in ‘The Recruits” Oliver drops all pretenses of being cordial and tries to bully his new potential team members into learning what he wants.

This is a return to the Arrow of previous seasons, specifically the first two, where everything about Queen was hard core and the episodes had an impressive body count.

After defeating Damian Dhark last season Queen has turned his back on the nicer version of himself.  Arrow has also finally left that island and replaced it with flashbacks of Russia and Bratva.

The old team have departed since the death of Laurel Lance and Oliver recruits some replacements. Wild Dog, Curtis and Evelyn Sharp are given an invite. Tobias Church continues making his move to control Star City and makes a mistake by almost killing Oliver.

Prometheus turns up to kick a little Church butt and tells him to lay off of Queen with a “he’s mine” warning.

Oliver’s Bratva training is followed in flashback and the storyline makes room for John Diggle’s tale of betrayal with his own new recruit.

The altered timeline from The Flash is not mentioned, where Barry Allen’s mucking about with the past changed Diggle’s daughter into a son.  Any changes not mentioned may turn up later however.

Felicity, who has reverted to type after the heaviness of last season, has that nuke rubbed in her face. When Green Arrow approaches Ragman to recruit him to Team Arrow, the new vigilante on the scene reveals he was created in the one town hit by the nuke last year.

Ragman, who was saved by his father wrapping him in magic rags, is a nice addition to the team.  The rest of the new kids on the block will undoubtably need a lot of training before they ever get past ‘B’ team status.

Quentin Lance is hitting the bottle again and even though Thea has offered him the deputy mayor position he may not be able to stop his downward spiral.

It has been pointed out that the flashbacks are wearing  a bit thin.  These have always been a part of the series and while they can be distracting, as well as annoying, they are part of the story.

Yes they are intrusive and more often than not the flashbacks take away from the main plot line .  It may well be that the show will eventually rely less on the backstory as things progress.

The big news this year for Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow and The Flash is the mega DC crossover and apart from Dr. Alchemy and the new Arrow villain Prometheus things will get even more interesting for the super heroes.

Meanwhile Arrow may have a whole new team but they all, even Ragman, have steep learning curve to overcome.  It will be interesting to see who takes Tobias Church down and how Felicity will be affected by the origin story of Ragman.

Arrow airs Wednesdays on CW.


The Flash: Paradox – Living With the Changes (Review)

Barry Allen/The Flash

Season three of The Flash is knocking it out of the park in terms of storyline. “Paradox” introduces more than Dr. Alchemy’s voice, we actually get to see the character. (Very Dr. Doom with that iron mask, but then DC and Marvel are famous for characters that “resemble” one another.) This episode has a clear moral to its story.

Learn to live with the changes you have made, in other words, stop trying to fix your mistakes and learn to accept things as they are.  Pretty good advice for both time travel issues and real life.

After last week’s revelation that things are different in this new timeline, Barry learns just how far they have changed from his first reality. After having a moan to Felicity Smoak he learns that his mucking about with the timeline also affected the people in Star City.

Allen notes a lot of change. The many differences include, apart from changing John Diggle’s little girl into a boy, Cisco’s brother has died, Iris and Joe are not speaking, Caitlin has a cool secret and Barry has a new office-mate, Julian Albert.

His new co-worker dislikes Barry intensely and the feeling is, apparently, mutual.

In this alternate timeline, Dr. Alchemy is busy creating new super villains to take The Flash on. Clariss is given his speedster powers back and there are  other “husks” found around the city.

Barry is upset when he learns that there is a lot of disharmony in this new world.  He finally decides to go back in time again and change things once more.

He is stopped by The Flash (Jay Garrick)  who tells Barry that he has been watching him. The two have a talk in 1998 and at the end of their conversation, Barry decides to live with the most recent changes he has  made.

As he attempts to shape these versions of his friends and family into carbon copies of the other timeline’s people, Clariss goes on the attack. Using the help of Dr. Alchemy and the philosopher’s stone, sans Harry Potter, The Rival beats The Flash pretty soundly.

Just as it looks like Barry will be killed, Cisco shows up and saves the day.  Clariss is put into jail and Dr. Alchemy is not best pleased that his speedster failed. The villain enters Clariss’ jail cell and from his screams it sounds like Alchemy has taken The Rival out of the picture.

Tom Felton is a nice addition to the cast of The Flash. After years of playing Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter franchise, Felton has perfected the fine art of looking and acting snotty.

It will be interesting to see what other changes have been wrought by Allen’s tampering. The ripple effect already changed Diggle’s kid’s gender and there may yet be changes to other characters in this new timeline.

The Flash airs Tuesdays on CW.  Tune in and see if Caitlin reveals her powers to Barry or not.


Guest starring Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak.

Supergirl: Season Two Premiere – Happy Smiling Faces (Review)

Supergirl poster

It has been a year since last Mike’s Film Talk looked at Melissa Benoist as Supergirl, aka, Kara Danvers and season two of the series still looks brilliant. This premiere episode saw Kara get a visit from her “younger” cousin and it was happy smiling faces all around. (Superman is quite chipper compared to his big screen Henry Cavill/Zack Snyder version.)

Of course these two superhero cousins are more in keeping with the old fashioned Superman than Snyder’s re-imagining of the man of steel.

This opening episode “The Adventures of Supergirl” introduces soon-to-be super villain Metallo and Lena Luthor, the adoptive sister of Lex, who is serving 32 consecutive life sentences in prison.

James (and never Jimmy) Olsen is back and it is still irritating that the series creators chose to make the former cub reporter into a tall, handsome and ripped photographer.

Winn Schott, the future Toyman, now works for DEO (aka the Department for Extra-Normal Operations). Superman and J’onn J’onzz do not get along due the the Kryptonite storage issue and Lex’s sister is trying to restore the Luthor name.

Cat Grant seems to have thawed out since last season’s premiere although that may have more to do with her character’s crush on Superman. As well as Metallo’s origin’s being explored here, there is a mysterious arrival from Krypton.

“The Adventures of Supergirl” featured a lot of double teaming by the two cousins. At one point, Corben targets innocent citizens of National City to split the superheroes up.  After Superman saves a small family, the father says, “That’s it, we’re moving back to Gotham.”

By the end of the episode, Lena Luthor is saved from Corben.  The assassin hired by Lex is shot by Alex Davenport and sent off to become Metallo. Kara sort of breaks up with James deciding that they make better friends.

Cat finally learns that Kara wants to become a reporter, something the magazine magnate predicted a year ago.

Apparently Superman is sticking around for awhile, something that must make Tyler Hoechlin very happy, perhaps that is why his character showed off so many of those pearly whites.

The cast of Supergirl now boasts two international performers on the rolls.  Birmingham actor David Harewood is joined by Irish actress Katie McGrath.

Supergirl is an entertaining show. Even the move from CBS to CW has not changed that. Benoist is an endearing superhero, sort of a girl next door quality housed in a red cape and superior super powers.

There are still some issues. Supergirl needs help from Superman to stop the falling spacecraft. She could have just been polite, asking her cousin for a hand, but clearly the “girl” was struggling. Odd moments like these are annoying. Supergirl should not need help. Full stop.

Still the show is fun and brings out he kid in this reviewer.  The series feels as impressive as the old black and white George Reeves reruns of the original Superman.

Up, up and away indeed.

Supergirl airs Mondays on CW. Tune in and stay up to date with this show, as a big crossover with The Flash and Arrow is on the cards this year.


The Flash Season Three Premiere: Flashpoint (Review)

Barry Allen/The Flash

Season three of The Flash starts with “Flashpoint.” The premiere took off in an alternate reality, or parallel world as it were, created by Allen when he saved his mother in the season two finale.

In short order we learn that Barry is in a different place in this reality. Neither Iris or Joe know who he is and Wally is now The Flash.  There is also a new speedster in town; The Rival,  who is running rings around Wally.

Barry Allen spends three months in this alternate world. Both his parents are alive and the Reverse Flash has been held captive in a glass cage that dampens his speed. Allen is not a cruel captor though as he does feed Thawne.

Throughout the episode Barry has moments where his memories flash before his eyes and then vanish. He is starting to forget key moments in his life and he does not know why.  Thawne tells him that he will be begging him to kill his mother before much longer.

He also explains that every time that Barry uses his speed, he will forget more. Finally, the Reverse Flash says, Allen will forget he is The Flash.

As Wally struggles to stop The Rival, Barry “meets cute” with Iris and he sets up a first date.  (Later Joe will not approve of this at all.)  Allen steps in as The Flash to help Wally, who he calls Kid Flash. This goes over like a lead balloon. Barry then tells young West that it will take two of them to defeat The Rival.

Allen gets together the old team, Cisco (who in this world is a billionaire), Caitlin and Iris. They work out a plan of attack. Iris takes Barry aside and asks about their connection in the other world. She says that she knew something was missing even before Barry introduced himself.

In this reality, Joe is a mess. He is always late and seems to have a drinking problem.  Later he shows up and saves Barry’s life after The Rival takes down Wally.

Both Flashes are to take on The Rival but Wally gets overconfident and pays the price. Barry steps in but only after Iris reminds him who he is. Those memory lapses slow him down temporarily but Iris’ pep talk sorts Allen out.

He reverses the double tornado that The Rival started and then takes the speedster out. As he turns his back and moves toward Wally, The Rival goes to attack and Joe West shoots the villain.

Wally is badly injured and he is not “speed healing.” Barry asks the Reverse Flash to kill his mother, seems the baddie was right after all.  When the deed is accomplished Thawne tells Barry that his world is now back to normal. He intimates that this will not be the case for Barry Allen.

Barry enters the  house to find Wally and his father  drinking a beer. After offering Barry one, things take a downward turn when he asks Joe about Iris. Joe storms off and Wally tells Barry, “you know they don’t talk.”

Things are definitely not back to normal in Barry’s world. Meanwhile, this world’s version of Edward Clariss is called by Dr. Alchemy,  “It’s time to awaken.”  Clariss moves toward the bedroom mirror to see Alchemy being scratched into the surface from other side.

As promised this season is shaking things up a bit and introducing some new characters.  This alternative world should make the upcoming crossovers pretty interesting.

Underneath all the setting up of this season, The Flash makes a valid point with the Barry Allen mash up in his new “corrected” world.  It is clear that changing any little or big thing in the past changes the present, or alternative, world…a lot.

Although apparently the more things change, the more they stay the same.  As The Rival shows up in the preview of next week’s episode “Paradox” and he clearly does not like The Flash in this world either.

The Flash airs Tuesdays on CW.


Arrow: Schism – Hope Springs Eternal (Review)

Damien Darhk in the final battle Schism

“Arrow” ended the fourth season with “Schism.” Damien Darhk was still quite earnestly trying to destroy Starling City, aka Star City, and the rest of the world even though his ark was rubble.  Darhk (played brilliantly by Neal McDonough) rather pettily wanted to kill everyone, including his daughter, because Machin died last week. 

The episode had the obligatory flashbacks to the island and we learn that Oliver killed Taiana (Elysia Rotaru) who was corrupted by the dark power needed to kill good old “what’s his name” back on the island. (We know his name was Baron Reiter  played by Jimmy Akingbola.) 

Meanwhile, the gang are overwhelmed when Darhk pays them a not-so social call to get the Rubicon laptop back and make some threats. While he was there, Damien had some ghosts shoot up the place. Getting his daughter back Darhk then departs for the final phase of his “bringing hell to earth” plan.

There was a good deal of angst in this season finale. Everyone was upset, depressed and had lost hope by the time that Oliver and the good citizens of Starling City took  on Darhk and his ghosts.  (To be fair, the scene where Mr and Mrs John Doe clash with the armed ghosts felt pretty epic, like “Gladiator” without swords, shields, sandals or Russell Crowe.)

“Arrow,” aka Green Arrow, has always been rather dark. Oliver Queen is morose, has to work hard at not killing villains and always has that “hangdog” look in his face. Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) is the Pollyanna in the Arrow-verse, even her inadvertent killing of “tens-of-thousands” of innocents does not put too much of a damper in Smoak’s eternal optimism. 

The finale had plenty of gun play, a bit of arrow play and loads of choreographed fights between pretty much everyone. Only John Barrowman’s Merlin was shorted in the department of fisticuffs, although he was able to save Thea (Willa Holland) with a well placed arrow of his own. 

After a huge build up to the final battle where 15, 000 nuclear warheads are about to eradicate all life  on the planet it is revealed that all Queen needed to defeat Darhk was…wait for it….hope.  Yes, hope was the secret weapon all along. Somewhat akin to Tinkerbell being brought back to life by clapping, Darhk’s magic was rendered useless by a whole lot of hope.

(To be fair it did take an entire city of hope to bring about Darhk’s defeat…sort of like an entire theatre of children clapping wildly was needed to bring back Tinkerbell…Hmmm.)

As one website put it, “Arrow” just sort of finished this season after Oliver shoved his arrow into Darhk’s chest and killed him.  But seriously? What did everyone expect? Darhk was the best villain ever.

Funny, pithy, glib, snotty, bigger than life and so acerbic.  He was good-humored evil on two legs and he loved being bad.  However his end came about, whatever happened afterward was going to be anticlimactic.  With an entire episode of fights, shootouts, frantic keyboard pounding and the rise of a downtrodden city’s denizens, the ending was bound to be a little…Meh.

In terms of outstanding performances Neal McDonough should be pulling in some huge gongs for his work on this show. The actor just blew everyone else away whenever he was on camera and he did not have to say a word to do so. That look of evil glee was enough to overpower the other players.

“Arrow” finished without any help from outside agencies, like “The Flash,” or “The Legends of Tomorrow” or even “Supergirl” (we know, it is miles too early for that) but the tease of a huge multi-crossover event next season leaves all sorts of possibilities open. We are still hoping that a certain former Time Master manages to bring back Laurel.

Hint. Hint.


%d bloggers like this: