Arrow: Lost in the Flood – Boom (Review)

Thea in the Ark in Arrow

Before going into the penultimate episode of season four (Lost in the Flood) and the ark going boom, let us take a moment to say Mike’s Film Talk called it last week when we rambled very briefly about a Supergirl/Arrow/Flash cross-over. It was even mentioned that with the time travel capabilities of DC’s LoT that Sara could come back and save Laurel’s life (aka a crossover episode).

While not an “I told you so” moment at all it just goes to show great minds think  alike. (Yes we know that a number of folks probably thought about a ‘Supergirl’ mashup but we put our fanboy ravings in print, last week.)

Excited ramblings aside, with just a touch of “we knew it,” this week’s episode starts with a more powerful Darhk sucking all the molecules of oxygen out of Oliver and Diggle’s bodies before he escaped to keep trying to start his own personal apocalypse. Thea is given a yellow pill to “turn her” and Felicity works hard with Noah to stop the Rubicon from being reactivated by Hive.

It is a little hard to really dislike Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough). Despite being the grandaddy of all big bad’s he is amusing on a consistent basis. Last night’s episode saw him complaining to his wife:

“Today was supposed to be Christmas, and I woke up to a lump of coal. Is it because I’ve been naughty this year?”

(And, Damien Darhk gives great pop culture reference. “That way, when the whole world goes all “Dr. Strangelove,” you can feel your skin melt from Armageddon.” You’ve got to love this guy.)

To be fair, since Oliver Queen is so humorless, or at the very least morose,  almost everyone else, except for Diggle (David Ramsey) who can also be pretty dour, can be pretty amusing. Felicity continually rocks the humor meter as does Curtis (Echo Kellum).  Ms. Smoak’s mother is funny but in an almost annoying “bubble-head” way.

‘Lost in the Flood’ is quite “ex” heavy.  Thea’s ex-“boyfriend”  Machin (Alexander Calvert) – who actually becomes a huge thorn in Darhk’s side, going so far as to kill Ruvé Adams (Janet Kidder) sending Damien into a murderously suicidal meltdown- Felicity’s ex, Cooper Seldon,  a computer hacker who takes on Smoak and her father. And of course Noah Kuttler ex husband and father with his ex Donna Smoak. 

That is a lot of exes.

For once in this show the good guys look to be ahead of Darhk but not for long. Oliver’s flashbacks to the island with Taiana (Elysia Rotaru) are slowly and agonizingly pointing to a solution to defeat Darhk, or at least diminish his power. As we see by the end of all the clips, the good hearted Taiana turns into a powerful golden-eyed (and power hungry) killer. 

It is the totem, the “head” that generates the power and corrupts the one who uses and relies upon it. Although admittedly it seems pretty certain that Damien Darhk was a stinker before coming across the thing.  Destroying the magical item should make the show’s big bad vulnerable, even with the power surge from the nuke.

Back to the episode, amusingly Thea manages to better Oliver who then has to talk her down. She and Queen step in to help Diggle with Merlyn and Thea gets the line of the show:

“Drug me again and I will kill you;  you son-of-a-b*tch.”

Felicity, Curtis and Noah crash the Rubicon and Machin rigs the ark’s command  center to explode. Thea, Digger and Queen  confront the madman and cause the facility  to self destruct.  Machin kills Darhk’s wife but after a bit of heated battle they manage to save his daughter.

Thea’s ex manages to escape the destruction and after the good guys get out they see the crater that used to be the ark.

Damien learns of Ruvé’s death and loses his happy thoughts completely.  Later he goes to drop off a message to Felicity.

‘Arrow’ is great stuff. DC at its darkest. ‘The Flash’ and ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ are much lighter in tone, as a rule, and  ‘Supergirl’ has its amusing moments. There is one more episode left in the current season. With the hint that a “Force” will help Oliver defeat Hive, one can only imagine who will turn up.

Capes anyone?

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: 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.