Flash 1.03 – Things You Can’t Outrun

Reminder: Muggle section for a straight episode analysis, Metahuman section for excessively geeky, comic-book analysis.

Recap: The writers (and audience) struggle to avoid easy fart jokes as a man turns into green gas and causes mayhem.

Muggle Musing

After two very good set up episodes, in this one we start to get a feel how the “average” Flash episode is probably going to be.  At least I hope it is since it was a pretty decent outing over all with some good acting on everybody’s part (especially between Jesse L Martin and John Wesley Shipp – those two will squeeze manly tears out of you if they have to sit on your chest and beat them out).

Also I must say how proud I am with the show makers.  Historically (yes I promise, not too geeky) on a lot of older shows with the Flash, especially the Superfriends, Flash would end up solving his problems by running in a circle (yes, even the premiere of the 90s series).  Now while it was understandable why he had to run in a circle in the first episode (that is a wise idea when dealing with a tornado), it must have been tempting for the writers to do it this one as “run around and contain the gaseous bad guy” would have been a viable strategy.  So kudos to them for staying outside the box.  Of course back then it was also a common story structure in Flash/Supes shows to have the hero beaten by an unexpected/lucky punch by the villain at the halfway (30 min) mark, research the villain a bit, then have the hero soundly win in the final 10 min.  A hint of it this episode to be sure, but they avoided it mostly by stretching out the final fight and by filling the rest of the time with good backstory and character examination.

Speaking of backstory… there is a style of storytelling I’m going to call “parallel plots” (if there’s a more proper name or trope, feel free to correct me) where you have one story being told in the “present” interrupted periodically with another story that’s told in the past (usually leading up to story A).  While I’m sure there must have been other shows which used this method, it didn’t really become popular or proven to be acceptable to audiences until the show Lost hit it big.  Since then we’ve seen more and more shows use parallel plots in their seasons, two of my favorites being Once Upon a Time and Arrow (which both use quite well I think).  I was curious if Flash would use this method as well (since they have some common production folk with Arrow) though they hadn’t in the first two episodes.  This episode is the first we see of it with a story of “what happened that fateful night” running alongside the main plot.  It worked well and I’m interested if they’ll try this “parallel plot” method only intermittently instead of the constant season long arc style they did with Arrow.

Things are still looking good for this show.  Though I do hope they stop calling him “the streak” soon.  Every time they do I have this song pop in my head…

Metahuman Musing

First I should add something I had missed (and thanks to the TVTropes boards for bringing it to my attention) but Cisco is apparently the real name of the superhero Vibe.  So even if WB is not going to set up a Justice League TV movie, we COULD be getting a Justice League DETROIT TV movie.  And that would be AWESOME.

So… our first look at Ronnie…

Interesting.  He has the body of a football player so he’s got the physical aspect of Firestorm down.  But they gave him some brains too.  I don’t mind this right off hand because in the real world there is a thing called specialization of knowledge, which movies/TV often forgets (i.e. if you’re a doctor, you’ll know EVERYTHING about the body, instead of focused on one aspect of it).  Historically, one clever way of balancing Firestorm was that professor Stein was needed for his knowledge.  Oh let me explain: Firestorm has the power of alchemy rays – he can change almost any substance into any other.  The exceptions are 1) it can’t be living and 2) he has to actually know the substance.  So he could never actually turn plastic into like… Adamantium since that substance doesn’t exist in the DCU, he would have no idea what the molecular structure is.  Thus when Stein, who knows his chemistry, is on board, FS can change things easily.  When Stein’s been unavailable, Ronnie’s had to actually learn what the chemical structure of things are or keep his changes very simple.  Now in the show, being an engineer, Ronnie should still need Stein’s atomic know-how to be a really great Firestorm, if they keep things realistic.  Part of me dreads that they’ll make Ronnie a general know-it-all and Stein will come off as a bit useless.

I did like his character, though and thought Robbie did a good job.  In the comics Ronnie’s gone through a bit of a rough characterization patch.  While he wasn’t always the noble boy scout that Superman was, he was usually the good-hearted jock type who wanted to do what was right.

The other big parts of the show are of course the love triangles.  Now if you’re familiar with the comics, you know that Iris is the one that eventually married Barry.  These shows seem to enjoy dragging out what the fans assume is inevitable.  In the first Flash series, Iris was engaged to Barry until she ended up leaving him in the first episode, clearing the way for Barry/Tina.  This time around we have Iris going out with a detective while Barry might be having sparks with a possible Killer Frost?  Could be interesting.  Well, I don’t find it interesting (love, blegh) but I am glad that while they have had Eddie Thawne not be a cartoon jerk like they so often do with competitors against the hero’s love life.  Even if he might also become a (if not “the”) Bad Flash.

And I noticed this on the IMDB:

Amanda PaysDr. Tina McGee (9 episodes, 2014)

Well played, show.

Episode Review – Soul Survivor

Eh, it was ok.

Oh alright.  This was written by the BB/ERL writing team, the duo I actually dreaded more than when Dabb took up the pen.  Considering some of the HORRENDOUS stuff they’ve turned out, getting an episode written that at least APPROACHES the level of mediocre is a marked improvement.  And like I’ve said, while they can still improve, I’ll credit improvement when it’s due.

So yeah, this episode was middle of the road, establishing a baseline we can use to judge the rest of the season.  Heck I was even surprised in two instances: 1) Sam stayed conscious throughout the entire episode, 2) Sam wasn’t using his own blood to cure Dean.  The symbolism and imagery on that is SO obvious I was pleasantly surprised that the writers didn’t go for it.

Still, there is some fail going on in this episode…

If you’re going to do a scene in Hell and go through the trouble of decorating a room, either cover up the window so you don’t see sunlight or at least green screen in some hellish flames or something.

Uh… demon setting himself on fire in Hell is like watching a spa employee go, “You suck, boss!  I’m going to go take a bath!”  Heck the fire should have just destroyed the meatsuit, which we saw with Abaddon in 8.23 WOULDN’T KILL THE DEMON!  Maybe they’re trying to bring back some of the insanity Supernatural used to be known for, but even then the craziness would make SOME amount of sense.

Closing scene?  Worthless with no context.  Know what would have been better?  Taking the minute or so that scene used up of run time and devoting it to smoothing out some of the OTHER faults in this episode.

Dean breaking the door down with a hammer… I was waiting for him to scream “Here’s Deany!” (or Johnny) so, again, kudos for resisting temptation.

…*sigh* Ok, time to address the 800 lb angel in the room.

Once again, Castiel’s story SUCKS because it is poorly written.  How can they not see this?

Oh look!  Crowley took out another angel’s grace and fed it to Castiel.  And the angel was set to live until Crowley stabbed her.  Of course, that doesn’t mean anything since a mortal Cas was stabbed and brought back thanks to an angel WAAAAAY back in episode… 9.03.  An episode THESE TWO WROTE!  Ok, ok this isn’t too bad as we might yet see that Cas went back into the diner and cast rez on his attacker (or Hannah did) so we don’t know for sure that wasn’t done.

BUT WHY HASN’T GRACE STEALING BEEN A STANDARD MO BY THE GUY ALREADY?  You have Metatron, threatening the world!  Take his grace!  Leave him mortal!  Heck in Heaven he shouldn’t die of old age so you wouldn’t even be killing him indirectly.  “Rogue” angels want to stay on earth?  FINE.  Take their grace and leave them stuck there as mortals just to be sure they don’t get up to trouble.  You would be giving them WHAT THEY WANT.  WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS?  I don’t care that Cas may not want to, I just want to know why.  WHY?

It’s like… watching a show where you see some people stranded on a deserted island, standing on the beach, and complaining about how thirsty they are.  All while the camera shows mile after mile of sparkling water RIGHT THERE IN FRONT OF THEM!  Now you’re probably saying, “Silly, Nate, the ocean is salt water.  Drinking that would kill them.”  Which is my point.  We, the audience, know that the ocean is salt water and that salt water does bad things to our bodies.  If, however, we were to (somehow) lack knowledge of either of those two facts, then the scene would be utterly nonsensical.  Right now in SPN, we’re pretty darn clueless as to some basic facts about the angels.  If there’s one fact or two which would explain to us why Cas doesn’t take the obvious solution (just as “ocean is salty” is a fact explaining why people don’t drink it), things would actually WORK IN THE DAMN STORY.

You want a good example of how to leave things unexplained?  Crowley saving Cas.  We have no real idea why he’s done it, but we have enough knowledge to make a few logical guesses that don’t break rules of story or our own minds.  1) Crowley’s been getting a bit more human lately, which means he’s feeling more sentimental.  2) Crowley’s worked with and used Cas in the past, so it’s not out of the question that he might need him again.  See?  We don’t know for sure, but we can guess at some ideas.  Why doesn’t Cas try some of the obvious, logical solutions?  NO IDEA.  The only thing that even makes close to sense is that he’s suicidal and wants off the damn show.  It’s certainly hard to see any reasoning how killing an angel (sending them to oblivion), is somehow worse than just taking away their power.  It’s like the show arguing that it’s worse to cut off someone’s hand than to kill them.  Except in the SPN universe, we know there’s an afterlife people get to go to.  Angels don’t even get that much, their completely erased from existence.  I mean… THAT’S better than being crippled?  See, either the show’s making no sense, or it’s teaching a horrible, HORRIBLE lesson.

So all in all I give this episode 3 out of 5, or a C.  Which is a new high score for BBERL who tanked S9 in its 3rd episode so hard I’m surprised they weren’t fired.  Or at least made to write “I will not use rogue reapers again” 800 times on a chalk board.  Now if they could just take a minute and fix their shit while writing, I could stop using their acronym for a swearword, BBERLit.

Episode Review – Reichenbach

Alright, this time I have plenty of positive stuff to say, so I’m going to get all the negative about the episode out of the way up front.

  • You know I actually don’t mind Castiel and the angels, and might even defend them against the fandom that is claiming they’re a bunch of plot tumors trying to take over the show.  …Well two episodes in a row now are making it REALLY hard for me to keep playing defender.  A big part of the problem is that they’re not even making a token effort to bother EXPLAINING any of the angel plot.  Why can’t Castiel just take out the bad grace?  Why doesn’t he take Metatron’s grace?  Even if he doesn’t want to ingest it, he could at least remove it to keep the guy prisoner!  Why ain’t he at the bunker helping Sam?  What possible fallout could Cas & Sam have over the last few weeks that is worse than what Sam & Dean had last season?  THEY still managed to hang out in the bunker together.  Heck you could have even had some of that dark comedy SPN used to have with a line down the middle of bunker and “my side/your side” shenanigans between Sam & Cas.
    It’s just… the writing on the angel plot sucks.  Either you cannot make any sense of it without your brain breaking from an infinite logic loop, or everything has to be “just because”, which is one of the first signs of shitty writing.  Here’s an idea, cut out some of the dialog between Dean & the guy he stabs this episode (or the scene all together, we don’t learn much from it that couldn’t have been learned or told elsewhere) and use that time to throw in SOME dialog to lay out the plot AND MAKE IT WORK. (seriously, why don’t they take away Metatron’s grace?  WHY?)
  • I am very much an “art-1st” kind of guy, I don’t buy much into the trends of complaining about sexism or racism or speciesism or whateverism is up for popular tweeting this week (which can end up with hilarious unintended consequences)… so when even I am starting to complain, you know it’s kind of bad.  Ok, actually the biggest reason I like diversity is that it’s easier for me to tell the characters apart.  Like in the previous episode, I thought at first “Cole” was the ex-lover that Dean had beat up in a prior scene, it took me a bit to realize they were two different actors.  I can sort of see why (outside of show considerations) they went with generic dude, but I kind of wish they had put in someone different, heck I still wish they had used the guy from “Bloodlines” even if it meant rewriting a bit in this episode.  Also: Castiel, Crowley, Cole?  Seems like we’re getting some ‘C’-supremacists here!
  • I do wish they had put SOME line from Cole about all the stuff Dean’s done over the few years.  Not much, just maybe something like, “Every time he was on TV, every time the FBI hunted him, I was deployed – overseas – and unable to help.”  Again, not much just something to make all the retconing fold into the existing lore easier.
  • Sam, WHY DON’T YOU STAB CROWLEY??? Yeah sure, it might not do anything, but why not do it ANYWAY?  Again, it would have been a nice touch of dark comedy and character to have something like: Crowley- “Give me the blade.” Sam- *stab it in Crowley’s gut*  Crowley- *looks down* “Doesn’t work if you don’t have the mark.”  Sam- “I know, but it felt good.”
    • I’m rather disappointed Sam didn’t try to convince Cole to join him against Dean.  Once upon a time he would have and then we’d have an arc where Sam & Cole have Dean locked up in the Bunker with Sam (obviously) motivated to save Dean, yet using Cole as a counter-balance to keep himself from going off the deep end.  If the current stable of writers hadn’t burned up so much of my good faith, I’d believe this to be a subtle sign of how far Sam has fallen.  As it is, I currently believe they see Sam much as they do angels: Props.  However they could turn this around so that’s why I’m marking this as a more minor point.

Alright, onto all the things I LIKED about the episode.

I liked that Crowley and Dean finally had a falling out.  After treating Dean like crap through the last half of S9, it was satisfying to watch Crowley realize what Dean had awhile ago: Dean’s invincible (sure, Crowley knew about it earlier, but judging from his reaction it wasn’t a real, concrete fact for him until this episode).  Crowley can’t MAKE him do anything.  After several seasons of Dean threatening Crowley, it was nice to finally see the guy stand up and be all “Oh yeah, I don’t like you.”  Now I’m somewhat disappointed Dean hasn’t gathered under him a following of demons (say… a fandom? ;)) that stalked him in spite of his wishes not unlike Forest Gump while running.  We did not get the promised hell campaign last season so it would be useful for them to try and get it right this season, only this time making it unique in that Crowley has to “compete” against a guy that doesn’t even want the job.  However I didn’t count this against the episode because there’s still time in the season for us to see Dean leading around a group of literal Hell’s Angels.

Nice to see Jared get more of a chance to act and even Jensen to do more than his usual growl.  Both of them were good though Jared at times almost looked like he hadn’t acted in so long, he wasn’t sure how to do it again. “Oh right, carry the scene… uh… hang on I remember how to do this… Director, are you sure I’m not supposed to get knocked out here?”

Let me mention this now which will make the following clearer: I liked the final fight.  Obscurus Lupa & Phalen have started doing a podcast of each episode this season which I’ve been listening to (though at times I want to yell out canon corrections lol).  In this episode they mention it was a bit like “Rock-Paper-Scissors” with Cole beating Sam, Dean beating Cole… etc.  Well I’m going to say that not only are they not wrong, but I say that it was GOOD!  I can’t recall off the top of my head the last time we were SHOWN such a great example of what’s important to hunters.  That while brawn and fighting skill are good, and might keep you alive for an extra second (assuming you’re not just TK-tossed into a wall), ultimately it’s almost all useless against what you fight.  The knowledge, intelligence, about what you’re fighting is what’s most important.  Cole was prepared.  Cole was trained and strong.  He could probably have taken nearly any person on the planet in a fight.  But Dean wasn’t a person.  So Cole lost over the course of a minute.  Meanwhile Sam, an ordinary dude (who Cole was thus able to beat), was able to bring Dean under control in thirty seconds.  He had the knowledge to obtain the victory Cole could not.  It was a subtle, well-done “I told you so” by Sam to Cole, and I liked it.

Side-note: I liked the fight scene as well mostly because it was a SCENE.  Been awhile since we’ve seen the boys mix it up with someone instead of being pinned by wind-tunnel.

Now, I should clarify something about myself: I LIKE the WORLD of Supernatural.  The canon and setting is to me what the boys are to most other fans*.  Although I played a few RPGs growing up with my buddies, I never actually owned a book until the Supernatural RPG book released (and that I bought ASAP).  There’s just something about which appeals to me on a level which a lot of other Urban Fantasy genres do not (and I liked Buffy and Angel too, but not near like I liked this).  Let’s see if I can explain one reason why (settle in, this will take a bit)…
When a bunch of people gather together, they form a group called a society.  They all then create a list of rules on things not to do to the members (though you might be allowed to do those things to people outside of your society) with a list of punishments to be inflicted should anybody break those rules.  Now everybody is supposed to enforce the rules equally, but once there are enough people around, not everybody can because a lot of folk have got shit to do.  So they chip in a portion of their resources and hire a few members to enforce the rules full time.  Of late, when a rule is broken, these hired folk will investigate what happened and determine who they suspect did it.  These rule workers then show the process of their efforts and the suspect to a random assortment of society members to have them check over everything, agree with the conclusion, and make sure no procedures were broken.  If it all clears, then punishment is delivered to the suspect.  Thus we get police, courts and law enforcement.
However in the world of SPN, we have a bit of a problem: some are breaking society’s rules, and the law enforcement apparatus our society has set up has no way of dealing with them.  (Although it could be interesting if there was one… on the flip side, however, could you imagine how wrecked “beyond all reasonable doubt” would be if possession and shapeshifters entered recognized law?)  Thus hunters.  Ordinary folk who have to take up the job others SHOULD have, but don’t because of various reasons.  SPN is, in many ways, an examination on how things might be if there was no law enforcement.
So yes, I liked that in this episode we flash back to 2003.  Cole’s Dad did something.  Given that, of what we’ve seen so far, Cole is human, then his dad must also have been until something changed him.  Maybe he became a vampire.  Maybe a werewolf.  Maybe something else.  The point is that in a properly functioning system, had Cole’s dad killed someone, the police would have determined it, taken him away, and seen to it that Cole found some help, therapy, whatever to come to terms with what had happened and what was up with his dad.  But we don’t have that.  Instead we have Dean, during a time when he was either hunting with his own dad, or alone.  Dean has to do an imperfect job, and part of that is being unable to comfort a grieving child.

In this we also see another demonstration (this time one I do believe might be deliberate by the writers) of how Sam humanized Dean.  Had Sam been with Dean at the time, Sam (at least back in that time) would have tried to comfort the boy, to help him understand some what had happened.  In this moment in the past, we see a sign of how back then, Sam did keep Dean human.

Though I will admit to be really fuzzy on how Cole’s time/age.  I think it might work but am not sure.  11 years since then… if Cole was 12 that would put him at 23 now which isn’t TOO implausible to being a dad and marine but– sorry, getting off track.

Thus I did also enjoy the brief discussion (and think they kept it at the right length) between Sam & Cole over monsters: whether “Man is the real one” or if there are other, real ones out there.  Had they swapped the actor playing Cole, I would take this episode as a pilot for Bloodlines far better than the one we got.  Similar themes between the two episodes, but this one had them painted better to make it fit seamlessly with the SPN world.  Ironic that this episode seems to have zigged wherever Bloodlines had zagged.  If Andrew Dabb had taken the criticisms of Bloodlines to heart and applied them to his writing… then color me very impressed and I’ll owe the man 1 slow clap and 1 thumbs up.

In many ways, this episode was better to start the season on than the previous one.  In fact I’m not sure you even need to watch “Black”, just skip straight to episode 10.02 and don’t look back.  Was it perfect?  Not quite, and a lot of the fault there is that the writers have done a poor job laying the groundwork and foundation for the plot.  Had these questions been addressed and answered in previous episodes, then this would would be perfect.  However they weren’t.  Which means the problems continue to rot at the story’s supports and so each subsequent episode is penalized UNTIL THEY GET THIS PROBLEM FIXED.  Some may not see this as fair, but that’s why you set the stage beforehand.  This is why you do the work to build the story early.  It’s why you put a foundation down before building a house.  If you don’t, all you’ll get is a beautifully built, domicile sinking into the mud.  Lay the foundation, and you get a soaring testimony to your skill.

.

*Thus if you have trouble understanding why S9 upset me so much… take all the feelings you had when the brothers were apart and torturing each other and stuff that season, then multiply it to get an idea how me and other world-lovers were feeling by the damage done.  And we still haven’t gotten our reconciliation.

10.02 – “Reichenbach” remix

Ok, I’ll confess that this episode was, on the whole, pretty darn good. But just because it was good, doesn’t mean we can’t poke a bit of fun at it. After all, I tease the ones I love and it is the duty of an abridger to not even spare the good, quality moments of the show, but try and figure out laughs to be had from it.

I may not have succeeded, but here’s hoping this season will give me plenty of practice (translation: I want it ALL to be at least as good as this episode.)

1002dean1 “Reaching back?” “Right in back?” I don’t get this title at all.
1stblade
1stblade
1stblade
1002dean2 Oh now I get it. Thanks Bladey. But where is the “Falls”?
1002cole1 Fool! I’ve stolen part of this title too! Bwahahaha
1002dean1 Oh that’s it. Let’s fight!
1002cole1 Soon. Soon. We need a climax for the episode.
1002dean1 Argh, why I always gotta be the one to finish off the show?
1002crowley2 Hey, Dean! There’s a sale on cowboy hats at Cabella’s!
1002dean2 Score! Can we get pie on the way?
1002crowley2 Of course we can, Dean.
–MEANWHILE–
1002castiel1 Is it my screentime now?
writers-group1 Uhh…. give us a minute.
1002castiel2 Ok, I’ll go nap until my scene.
writers-group1 *to each other* What were we doing with him?
–MEANWHILE–
1002crowley1 Hey, while we’re out here, I got a job for you.
1002dean1 What?
1002crowley2 Guy made a deal, need to kill his woman.
1002dean1 Can I do it offscreen?
1002crowley1 Oh Satan-yes. We wouldn’t want to waste time or anything.
–LATER–
1002crowley2 Did you do it?
1002dean2 Nope.
1002crowley1 You bastard!
1002dean2 Whatcha gonna do about it? I’m invincible!
1002sam1 Enter stage right!
1002dean1 Sammy?
1002sam1 Let’s go man, you know if we’re apart for more than 2 episodes the universe implodes.
1002dean2 I could do that… or I could throw this dust bunny at you!
1002sam2 noooooo *is unconscious*
1002cole1 Ok, this is getting too silly now. Time for our fight scene!
1002dean1 Bring it!
1002cole2 *BAM*
1002dean3 *KA-POW*
1002cole2 *CLANK*
1002dean3 *ZOT*
1002cole2 “Sonic Boom!”
1002dean3 “Hadouken!”
1002cole2 “Show me what you’ve got!”
1002dean3 “C-c-c-c-combo breaker!”
1002cole1 Ugh. “Finish me.”
1002dean3 “DEANMON WINS…”
1002dean2 “FRIENDSHIP.”
1002cole1 Friendship?
1002dean2 Totally leaving you alive.
1002cole1 Nooooooooooo….
1002sam1 Hey Dean – HOLY WATER!
1002dean1 Gah! What the hell? You should’ve been out for hours!
1002sam1 Oh I haven’t actually been unconscious all those times. I’ve just been grabbing some power naps and letting you do all the work.
1002dean3 Oh you lazy bastard! Which one of us is the REAL evil, huh, Sammy?
1002sam1 We’ll see next episode, bro. Next episode.
THE END
writers-group1 Wait… did we forget something?
1002castiel2 zzzzzzzzzzzzz

(crossposted @ http://supernaturalsnark.wordpress.com/2014/10/18/supernatural-10-02-reichenbach-remix/ & http://www.thewinchesterfamilybusiness.com/article-archives/episode-related/18808-nate-winchester-s-remix-of-supernatural-10-02-reichenbach)

Flash 1.02 – Fastest Man Alive

ZOMG this show is like chocolate flavored orgasms!

*cough* I mean uh… welcome to the completely unbiased and straight-talk Flash reviews.  It was told to me that there was some confusion in the last review so let me clarify: the “Muggle” section is a straightforward review with no comic-book references to be found.  The “Metahuman” section is the part of the review devoted to full on comic-book geekery.  So if you’re looking for comic-book talk, or want to avoid it, then you know what to skip to/avoid.

Recap: Barry Allen runs so fast he lands himself in the Matrix Reloaded.  Meanwhile the older actors engage in a full on competition to see who can get the most tears out of the audience.

Muggle Musings

I am old enough to remember the days of not only the first Flash series, but also the Lois & Clark Superman series.  Even back then, I noticed the shows had one glaring problem: They really needed to be only a half hour long.  But these shows were set to last 1 hour.  The heroes could solve the plot in 1 minute (and often did).  What do you with the other 59?  Often it was filled with pure time-waster or silly “obstacles” to slow down the hero, emphasis on silly.

So with the new Flash, part of me has been wondering: how are they going to fill the hour?  Will it be worth it or will it be largely frustrating?  Two episodes in, it looks like the powers in charge of television have learned something important: CHARACTERS!  Make interesting characters, and you can use up a lot of the episode’s time examining them.  So in this one we get Barry trying to get into the habit of living a double life while those involved with said life try to deal with him living it.  And what can I say, especially at this age (where so many of my peers are fathers now), the struggle of 3 different father figures against each other on Barry’s behalf was touching.  (Sure my younger self would have been bored, but my older self really appreciated it.  Dad’s need more love nowadays.) John Wesley Shipp, Jesse L. Martin, and Tom Cavanagh all turned in very excellent, compelling performances, often putting in emotionally powerful performances in a tiny amount of screentime without resorting to scenery chewing.  One of the things that bugs me in modern society (that I may have to write a longer essay on) is that an artwork being “manly” or “masculine” means not having any emotion.  In truth men have emotions too, it’s just often a different flavor and style compared to more “girly” or “feminine” works.  My go-to example is always Secondhand Lions, but episode 2 of this series now joins it.  …Give me a minute, this room seems extremely dusty all of a sudden.

The other big lesson of the past decades of TV is the balancing between arc/episodic in shows.  For those who may be confused: Arc = shows which have storylines running from one episode to the next.  Basically, you must watch them in order or you’ll be very confused.  Episodic = shows where each episode is largely stand-alone.  You can watch almost any episode from any season at any time and be able to enjoy it with minimum confusion.  In light of how reruns are done, it’s not surprising that originally most long running TV shows used an episodic nature, it’s only been with the rise of DVD & Netflix that arc shows have even become reliable and possible.  Then, viewers would have had to catch the show and watch everything religiously to be able to follow any plotlines, making it highly unlikely you’d ever attract new viewers if you were arc focused.  But now if new viewers get intrigued by what you’re doing, they can catch up to where the show is in a weekend, thus the new golden age of arc shows.  Of course some shows do a mix.  Supernatural, X-files, and others will have about half a season devoted to an arc, with the other half of it being very episodic (or “Monster of the Week (MotW)” style).  Arrow (also comic-book sourced, also on CW) has been set up and running as very much an arc show while from the first episode, it looks like the Flash is going to be episodic.  Now two episodes in, it looks more like the Flash will adopt my favorite mix (perfected by, in my opinion, the show Burn Notice).  Each episode looks to have an “A plot” devoted to MotW (I guess in this case it’s “Metahuman of the Week”) with “B plots” devoted to the show’s arc(s).  Though in this case the closing/opening episodes of each season are full on devoted to the arc.  Again, I’m glad to see this method get some more adoption and perfection as it will make it easier for the show to pick up additional viewers, yet give us faithful a reason to turn in week after week.

The special effects are still holding up.  I mentioned before how I was a little disappointed the effects were all “big and flashy” without much subtlety to them, but this episode we had more subtle ones, like rescued civilians just “appearing” in shot with a bit of red blurring painting in just behind them.  I liked that.  The Multiplex fight was well done and surprising how much better it was than the Matrix Reloaded fight of a similar nature a decade ago.

I liked that they kept Barry’s high food requirement (a source of some amusement in the first Flash show) as a way of balancing out the character and made the fight against Multiplex fairly logical for why the Flash can’t just insta-win (when there’s enough of them, they can still get a hand on you).  Of course we can also debate on whether Multiplex is dead or not, but that’s the fun of a copying character: it’s not that much of a stretch to believe he faked his own death.

All in all, a fun run.

Metahuman Musings

NOT ONLY IS MULTIPLEX IN HERE BUT RONNIE IS MENTIONED! SQUEEEEEEE

Ok ok, I’ll talk about the actual title character first before going off on the REAL star of the show.

I was willing to consider that maybe the show was going to misdirect us fans and have Harrison Wells NOT be Bad Flash (yes, I know his “proper” name is “Reverse Flash” but since he doesn’t run backwards, that doesn’t make sense and I refuse to use it),  well this episode made it a lot less likely.  The bad Flash (as I had last read about) was written as a villain who had essentially taken “ends justifies means” along with “fandom” to excessive measure.  He wanted the Flash (I think specifically Barry Allen, at least it seems so in this show) to be the best hero he can be, so Bad Flash does some horrible things all in the aim to making Barry better.  As we see at the end of this episode, that involves killing an innocent (if very douchey) man in order to keep Barry from being manipulated or anything by said man.  If anything this episode hints that the show (or at least the first season) will be a war for Barry Allen’s soul, and when it comes to Harrison Wells, he’s willing to do WHATEVER it takes to “win” that war.  So far Joe West (and maybe Henry Allen) are on the same side as Harrison in this war, but what will happen if they end up opposed?

Now for fun.  If you don’t know (few people do) the hero Firestorm (originally) was created when an experimental nuclear reactor exploded.  Two people: Ronnie Raymond & Martin Stein were nearby and gained the power of nuclear fusion, merging to create 1 new being (part of why I like Firestorm, he always has built in drama ready and his powers are weirdly weak, yet overpowered at the same time for an odd balance).  It was then revealed that, Danton Black (former employee of Martin Stein) had sabotaged the reactor, but messed up and got hit by the same explosion, giving him the opposite ability of Firestorm: nuclear fission (aka, making copies).  So… yeah this appearance by him in the show is pretty accurate, though they traded his bitterness at Stein for bitterness at Simon Stagg in an almost literal repeat of the story they invented for Mr. Freeze’s first appearance in the Batman: Animated Series episode, “Heart of Ice”.  Not that that’s a bad thing, that episode was very good and elevated a 1-note villain into a tragic, engaging figure, it’s just kind of funny to now having seen the change to such a villain happen twice in my lifetime, to two different foes.

Of course as a lot of fans (both of us) were predicting, Caitlin Snow’s lost fiance was named Ronnie, meaning that the upcoming Firestorm was previously engaged with the soon-to-be (probably) Killer Frost.  Who’s had about 3 or 4 people be her now (yep, she’s a legacy villain), which is doubly funny because the first KF, Crystal Frost (yeah, Caitlin Snow is an improved name) was originally crushing on Martin Stein (the other half of Firestorm).  See, THIS is how you adapt works and characters, people: You take them and add a few tweaks to bring it into a new medium and set up while allowing tributes to the original source to shine through in small ways JUST to show the fans that you did your homework and that you care.  And as a comic geek, man I couldn’t be happier.

10.01 – “Black” remix

And we’re back with a new remix for a new season!

1001dean1 Wooo! Yeah, back in black, baby! Sing along!
1stblade
1001dean1 What do you mean?
1stblade
1001dean3 *looks up* Son of a… who took the first two words of our episode title?
1001dean2 Rargh… DEANMON SMASH!
–MEANWHILE–
1001sam1 Yes! Scenes! I’m going to act the HELL out of this!
1001dean2 *bop*
1001sam2 Nooo… I’m unconscious! How can I act now?
1001dean2 Sammy fix title, then DEANMON give Sammy screentime.
1001sam2 I didn’t mess with the title, bro!
1001dean2 Grrrr… DEANMON continue searching!
1001sam2 *sigh* *remains unconscious*
–MEANWHILE–
918castiel1 Hello?
1001dean2 DEANMON smash pretty angel if not give back title!
918castiel1 Uh…
1001castiel *cough cough* I’m way too sick to mess with the title or take any screentime from you!
1001dean2 OK! DEANMON hang up now! *hangs up*
410anna Hey, Cas! Ready for our scene?
1001castiel Anna? I thought you were dead.
1001hanna No I’m HANNA, with an H. A completely different female angel ally.
1001castiel Oh right. I think we best sit this one out.
–MEANWHILE–
1001dean3 Who are you?
1001dude1 I… …am the one… WHO STOLE THE TITLE!
1001dean2 DEANMON smash!
1001dude1 And that’s not all. I’m also going to knock out Sam with this feather and take over his scenes too!
1001dean2 DEANMON did that already!
1001dude2 What? Oh c’mon! Benny got his scenes in 8. Gadreel stole in 9. It was my turn, man!
1001dean2 DEANMON don’t care!
1001dude1 The producers will hear of this!
1001crowley1 Whoa now, no need to involve them.
1stblade
1001crowley1 Hey boy. *whistle* I got a pie for you. It’s your favorite…
1001dean2 DEANMON like pie!
1001crowley1 I know you do.
1001dean3 Why haven’t I killed you yet?
1001crowley1 Because… PIE!
1001dean1 omnomnomnom
1001crowley1 Quick, while he’s distracted! Take your boytoy and run.
1001dude2 C’mon, Sam. Let’s go set up next week’s episode. The plans I’ve got for you…
1001crowley2 Huh. Seems like not a lot’s happened in thi–
THE END

(crossposted @ http://supernaturalsnark.wordpress.com/2014/10/14/supernatural-10-01-black-remix/ & http://www.thewinchesterfamilybusiness.com/article-archives/episode-related/18798-nate-winchester-s-remix-of-supernatural-10-01-black)

Episode Reviw – Black

Why this episode title?  “Back in Black” is not only fitting, but also continues several Supernatural traditions.

Ok ok, I’ll resolve this season to say at least one positive thing about each episode that is NOT “well at least it ain’t season 9″.

With Sam researching while Dean drinks and fornicates we actually see something that’s been missing for several years: the original boys.  Of course I know people grow and change over the years but a core usually remains.  What does it say that now that they are apart, we’re seeing the boys revert more to form?  I wish I could be more certain that this is a deliberate writing choice and not just the powers that be giving in to fan complaints about the boys barely being the boys.  Still it was nice to see them back to form if for no reason than to give Jared a chance to act again.

So what we had this episode were essentially three plotlines edited together in a rather haphazard fashion.  Let’s examine each one for good and bad.

  • Castiel – Ok, even I’m starting to get tired of the angels now, and they used to be what I preferred watching the show for!  See the issue is that the writers seem to be under the impression that audience confusion is a substitute for mystery.  It’s not.  If it was, I could write the greatest mystery novel of all time using a random word generator.  If the show hadn’t failed to answer so little last season I might have more patience and faith that answers were forthcoming but as it is… 1) Hannah says it’s “heaven’s orders” that angels return.  Who’s giving the orders?  With Metatron in jail and Cas not leading, where are the orders coming from?  2) “Out of chaos comes angels like Naomi and Metatron” but if angels aren’t in heaven, what does it matter?  How are they going to take over if they’re not there?  3) Why not just make the angels that don’t want to return, mortal?  Take their grace away or let it fade. (which it SHOULD HAVE DONE BY NOW IF ANYONE REMEMBERED JACK SHIT ABOUT THE SHOW!)  4) Cas if you really don’t want to kill angels, WHY ARE YOU KILLING THEM?  Why not just remove their grace like was done to you?  Yeah you’re in the middle of a fight but why don’t you have a sigil or some magic to paralyze them?  Why not just master the fighting moves necessary to remove said grace? Why not at least put forth more of an effort?  Remember how the Winchesters, the guys you’re so fond of spent entire seasons teaching you about looking for that “third option”?  Why aren’t we seeing you even ATTEMPTING that?  5) If the stolen grace is so bad, why hasn’t Cas removed it already?  —  It’s like every time Castiel is on screen we hear dialog, we see actions, and the two do not mesh.  Will SOMEBODY get the showing and telling on the same page already!
  • Sam – Wow, too bad we didn’t get to see this Sam last season, I actually recognized him this time.  Oops, he’s out again.  I also can’t seem to care about the guy that’s kidnapped him to trap Dean. Another hunter they’ve run afoul.  I was hoping for something we either hadn’t seen ever or at least in awhile.  Like maybe an apprentice!  Let’s watch Sam be a big brother or dad for awhile.  Also, I totally called that it was him in the opening teaser.  No surprise.
  • Dean – Oh Dean… there’s an ancient thought exercise called “the Ring of Gyges”.  The ring gave its wearer invisibility (and yes, it was the inspiration for Tolkien’s own magic ring).  The thought exercise was: if a person could act outside the bounds of societal consequence, how would they act?  Good or evil?  In principle, we should start seeing this with Dean.  He is immortal.  He cannot be killed and no longer has much in the way of physical needs.  He is now free of consequences as he cannot be punished any more.  Yet despite being a bit hedonist, we haven’t seen Dean go really out of control.  He’s demonic or something now but what effect that’s going to have on the essence of who-he-is might be answered, it might not.  I actually wish I could have more faith in the storytellers.

So not much in the way of rating just yet.  We’ll see how the season goes.  I do hope the powers in charge have mastered some of the storytelling commandments they broke last year.