the Legend of Korra – spirit (Book 2)

If you go back and look at my posts, you’ll see that in the general I was actually quite pleased with Korra S1 and thought that in many ways, it was better than much of the first series, Avatar (though I admit that this is partially by not having “grown up” with A:tLA so it didn’t have some the impact on me it apparently did on others – much like how I can’t ever really look at Batman: the Animated Series objectively).  I had been hearing (despite some of my efforts) that Korra had continue to trend downhill in later seasons but wasn’t sure how accurate that was or how much that judgement might be skewed by nostalgia glasses.

Well I can certainly see WHY people were complaining, though from what I’ve read/seen so far, the complaints about Korra S2 are of a manner where nobody likes it, but nobody can seem to put a definite answer on why.  To me the answer is obvious: it’s a repeat of S1, only without any of the growth or acknowledgement of what happened in S1 which is one thing that A:tLA did very right.  Consider:

  • Main villain sells to everyone what at first seems to be a noble goal, only to later reveal a more sinister aim behind it all.
  • Bolin gets with a girl early in the season (Korra/Eska) but ends up apart from her at season end.
  • The gang runs into a very rich, powerful figure (Hiroshi/Varrick) who turns out to be morally ambigious.
  • One of the brothers falls for a woman connected to the aforementioned rich guy (Asami+Mako/Ginger+Bolin).
  • Korra must struggle with learning an aspect about being the avatar, only to master the problem at the very end (air bending/spirit stuff).
  • At some point in the 2nd half, Korra is isolated and alone from everyone and must go through a vision to uncover the truth about what’s going on.
  • Korra and Tenzin end up having an fight and separating whereupon Korra is “seduced” to the dark side by a villain.

There’s even more that I know I’m forgetting and that’s not counting the little touches (like the leadership not listening to Korra and General Iroh ending up not doing anything) that might be excusable as parallels or echoes if the season wasn’t such a repeat.

And that is why S2 is ultimately a failure: because in many ways it makes no use of anything from S1 and doesn’t bother learning the lessons of what S1 did right.  Had Amon lived, his quest to unlock the spirit world and become a “dark avatar” might have worked given that it would flow understandably from an escalation of his previous plan.  The close of S1 (past avatars “fixing” Korra) should have been retconned (a vision is the obvious fix) so that this season could have been the one where Korra worked at restoring her powers.  One thing I have seen agreement on is the 2 part flashback to the “1st avatar” in this season was the high point of the season.  So spreading out the story over the season as Korra works to regain her power and learns about it would have undoubtedly improved the season as a whole.  It was certainly annoying to have Korra start out the season having mastered the Avatar State, something that took Aang far longer to do (and cementing Korra as full on Mary Sue).  At the end, Korra ends up becoming master of… something (I guess spirit) for no discernible reason other than “she’s the protagonist.”

In the end I think the problem with Korra S2 is largely the same as the one in Star Trek 3 as pointed out by Chuck.  All the pieces were in place for the season to be really, REALLY good, but in the end they utilized none of them instead falling back on well worn tropes that didn’t elevate the story, but lessened it.

How Spider-verse could have been

So, there was a big Bat Family Crossover recently in Marvel, the eponymous Spider-verse.  Can you guess what it was about, reader?

I admit, I was intrigued by the possibilities.  I’m a moderate fan of Spidey and have a slight preference for DC so a DC-style multi-verse tale involving web-head?  Sign me up!

Then… I started hearing things about it and reading reviews.

Spider-man, across worlds.  HOW DO YOU SCREW THIS UP?  Heck the 90s cartoon series concluded with that very story in a 2 parter that was ultimately well done and it was hardly a bastion of writing excellence (but still not a bad show).

Before I go over all the ways this story failed, let’s back up a moment and establish some ground rules.

I’ll be referencing “narrative law” or “narrative rules” as basically a fill in for… well tropes.  Now these are not laws like in the tradition of laws of physics, but more like a society’s laws: break them and things go bad.  Or a better example: the instructions on a recipe.  No you don’t HAVE to do what it says, there’s nothing preventing you from using hot sauce instead of sweater for example.  But usually by not following the rules, your result will end up an inedible mess that nobody will want to eat.  Likewise, break certain narrative rules, and your story will end up a mess that nobody wants to read.  Yes there are a host of caveats and exceptions, but one must always master the basics first and it’s pretty clear that in spider-verse, they aren’t even AWARE of the basics.

First, establishing the principle factor.  Marvel has had a long standing rule that their core books and Ultimate line of books were to never mix, though for the 50th anniversary of Spidey, they allowed the two versions to meet each other in Spider-Men (which I do have and I will admit: is pretty good and after 50 years, spidey had earned that right).  With that having been just 2 years before the start of ‘verse, we have to be aware of the standard established here as it will be hard for fans not to see Spider-verse as another celebration of the big 5-0 and it must at least meet the minimum character moments and so forth established by the previous crossover.

With all this in mind, how should have spidey-verse been done?  There are two major possibilities (almost like… possible universes).

VERSION 1

So, with all these factors together, it seems obvious that the first choice of villain for sVerse is an Osborne, THE arch enemy and big bad of Spider-man.  Norman is the obvious first choice, but a version of Harry would have the fitting pathos for a spidey title.

Have one of them in a universe invent a dimensional transporter of some kind (why? it’s an Osborne, you’ve got revenge, madness, all sorts of possible motivations).  So the story starts with Green Goblin going out and gathering other versions of goblin to form an army to finally defeat Spider-man (you can even have a sly joke in there about all the mixup that was involved with the Hobgoblin’s identity). He is successful in the defeat, but the spidey gets away at the last moment!  Enraged, the Goblin army begins wrecking the multi-verse in the hunt for his final vengeance (maybe takes out a spidey or two, though they should be spideys invented for this crossover so fans won’t have to worry about seeing a favorite die).  Turns out the spidey escaped to earth 616 where he recruits our Peter Parker.  Together they realize what they have to do: gather an army of their own.  (Answer to why spidey doesn’t go and get other heroes? Because he feels its his responsibility and maybe leaves them on 616 as a backup/failsafe in case this war goes badly.)

Adventures across the multiverse as Parker gathers other spiders and runs into some of Osborne’s forces.  Little border skirmishes and proxy wars break out as they come to realize what each side is doing and races to get the numerical advantage.  Parker ends up as the de-facto leader because he knows what to say to get these other versions on board knowing what the super-hero life entails and having been involved in multiverse shenanigans before.  Plenty of space here too for spin offs as we examine the consequences of this war spilling out to other earths.

Last issue, the main battle as the armies collide!  It’s back and forth for awhile but, as always, the spiders ultimately win.  The armies slowly scatter, each Goblin racing back to their home with their spiders chasing after them until we’re left with a few core characters.  The Goblin who started it all is captured and unmasked to reveal… Peter Parker.  The Spider-man of that world unmasks to reveal… Harry Osborne (maybe Norman but I think the implication of a son that was rejected by his father and an orphan adopted by that father turning out to be the source of the story packs a more powerful narrative punch and invokes rules about parallels).

Wrap up with a few parting words (“I always knew you had a hero in you, buddy.”) and a closing celebration that no matter what, Spider-man always fights on, and he always wins.

(man now I really want to script that, any artists want to help a fan fic?)

VERSION 2

Now let’s try writing Spider-verse with as much of the writer’s set up as possible.  I’m not always a big fan of magic in Spidey’s stories (hence why v1 is more science based) but let’s run with it.

First we have Morlun and his people.  So we should ask ourselves: Who are they?  What is their purpose?  In his analysis of the Cabin in the Woods, Cecil of GoodBadFlicks points out how the “great old ones” which threaten the world are really a stand in for the audience adding extra layers of meta examination to the movie surpassing even Scream.  Likewise it seems to me that the Morluns (I can spell that easier than inheritors) with their ravenous consumption of spider-men are a rich opportunity to also be an audience stand-in (given how we love to purchase Spider-man stuff) and to give Spider-verse a layer of meta commentary on comic books both past and present.  The only problem is that Marvel comic books seem to have been doing all they can to burn bridges with fans so what normally would have been a good chuckle from audiences at the “we are villains” commentary, might turn out badly.  It would have to be handled with heavy deftness and skill.  Though the obvious touch will be for the lead Morlun or whoever to turn out to be another universe version of Peter Parker with a variety of reasons for the authors to choose from (i.e. He never got powers and, after seeing all the universes where did, decided he wanted to have powers too.)

So we have the Morluns who eat “animal totem” people, and have a preference for spiders.  They are really powerful but have a weakness with radiation.  *bam* We’ve got the reason for Peter Parker’s importance: he gained his totemic goodness by a radioactive spider-bite.  Which means he’s a nightmare to the Morluns as he’s bait they can hardly resist, but with his radioactive-ness they’re extremely vulnerable to him.  If Marvel wants to keep up the pet-status of Silk, that can also be added here.  Maybe she’s laced with even greater radiation.  Maybe even have the possibility that if she and Peter were to have a child, the threat to the Morluns would be indescribable.

So she gets out, and all out reality war breaks out as the Morluns really really want to keep her & Peter apart, if not kill them both.

Now through the story I saw references that there are 3 important people the Morluns are seeking for reasons: the Bride, the Scion, the Other.  Let’s talk a minute about macguffins.

There are a lot of narrative laws that revolve around macguffins, but 2 of the most important are:

  • If the macguffin is a thing, WHAT it does is LESS important than WHY people want it or WHO wants it.  The 2 best examples are the briefcase in both Pulp Fiction and Ronan (notice we never know WHAT is in there).
  • If the macguffin is a person, WHAT he/she does or WHY he/she is wanted is LESS important than than WHO is the macguffin person in the first place.  The Golden Child is a good example of this (the what/why is kept simple, more is shown of the child’s character) and D-Wars: Dragon Wars is a BAD example of this (we’re told a lot about what and why the macguffin is wanted, but we don’t learn a lot about her).

Or to sum it up even further: characters should generally have priority, the narrative flow should always pull towards the actors in the story.

So, why/what do the 3 macguffins in spider-verse do?  Doesn’t matter near as much as WHO they should be. In the original it’s Silk (616), Kaine (616), Benjy (MC2)… which comes off as pretty arbitrary and weird.  I mean if 2 out of the 3 beings are from 616, why bother having this be a multiverse story?  The 3rd should have been from 616 as well and everything kept in the main universe.

No, since this story should ideally be a celebration of 50 years of Spider-man AND (in this version) a meta commentary on fandom & comics, the 3 should revolve around Peter Parker AND USE the premise of a multi-verse adventure:

  • The Bride – Spider-Gwen.  The woman that was almost Mrs. Parker.  Her death is (narratively) the 2nd biggest one in Peter’s life and is (meta-wise) the marker for the end of comics’ silver age.  Spider-Mary Jane could be an alternative but because that alternation was more recent, and this is supposed to cover all of Peter’s life, less optimal from a narrative standpoint.
  • The Scion == Yes Benjy of MC2 is the obvious pick, which is what they should imply before revealing that the real Scion is Spider-girl!  Narratively speaking, the death of baby May is the 3rd most important of Peter’s life (even if Marvel doesn’t want to admit it) while in the comics she was the successor of Spider-man not just in blood, but in spirit.  Meta-wise she had a devoted fan following (including this author) proving that Spider-man could be a good legacy character as long as the reasons we all became fans of Peter Parker are not forgotten, a sign of longevity in the character.
  • The Other == Spider-Ben.  How could it be otherwise?  No other death has impacted Peter more, it is THE most important one in his life.  Meta-wise, his is the death that gave birth to the Spider-man comics, without him there would be no celebration of 50 years.

Then besides the radioactive thing about Peter, with these three we see another reason why he’s so important: because he is the lynchpin that ties these three together.  As the adventure goes, she should be the one that gets these 3 and bring them together because he understands them, these people shaped his life.

YOU CERTAINLY DON’T HAVE DOC OCK BE THE ONE WHO INSPIRED BEN TO FIGHT!  It’s so ***** obvious!  Ben is the original inspiration for Peter.  It’s Ben’s voice and push that has drive Peter all these years.  The narrative laws are so clear I’m actually shocked an army of muses didn’t descend on the Marvel publishing house to raze it to the ground.  When they need Spider-Ben to join the fight, it is PETER that is the one to inspire him.  A way of returning the spiritual investment (with interest) that his Uncle Ben made all those years ago.  Spider-Ben should have been THE key, the pivot over which the entirety of Spider-verse turned.  It should have been him to save Peter at the end, and them having a “I’m proud of you moment” at the end of the last issue (not counting epilogue).  Yes, I mean BOTH Peter & Ben should have needed and given the other pride.  Peter could have finally known he made his uncle proud, while Ben could have finally known that his nephew he lost so tragically really looked up to him with pride.  It would have been the PERFECT capstone to 50 years of Spider-man.

And the fact that Marvel didn’t follow these very obvious narrative rules & suggestions, means that what could have been a GREAT story, one of the greatest in Spider-man’s history, is just mediocre at best, a travesty at the worst.

And after 50 years, Spider-man deserved far better.

10.06 – “Ask Jeeves” Remix

Yeah this one is probably even more esoteric than usual for me, so some explanations will be at the end.

 

*knocking sound*
tcurry2 May I help you?
1006dean1 Sorry we’re late, we got lost on the way here.
1006sam2 We did? I thought we were trying to talk the writer into going out on a high note of the 200th episode.
tcurry1 Oh I thought he was just lazy.
1006dean1 Ix nay! So what do you need us for?
tcurry2 I need you two to help solve…. a murder!
*dramatic music*
1006sam1 *looking around* the hell?
tcurry3 That would be your partner ringing our doorbell.
1006dean2 Sammy check it out.
1006dean1 *in overwrought voice* It’s your baby! *pushes doorbell*
*dramatic music*
tcurry1 Yes madam always loved her novelty doorbells. Please, this way.
1006sam1 Who do you think is going to die?
1006dean2 I don’t care as long as it’s not one of us for once.
1006sam2 Why is everyone here dressed in black?
tcurry2 It’s for madam’s funeral.
1006dean1 Oh good call butler dude.
1006sam1 When did she die?
tcurry3 Last Friday.
1006dean1 I don’t know what you’ve heard about hunters, but we need to be called sooner to actually prevent death.
1006sam2 Unless you want her back REALLY bad. In which case Dean’s got a coupon book and frequent customer card of Hell.
1006dean2 Saaaaaam!
1006dean1 He’s right though. One more soul sold and I get the toaster oven.
tcurry3 No you, IDEEOTS! Madam is not the victim. One of these attendees will be!
*dramatic music*
tcurry1 Oh another guest must have arrived.
psych2 Hey dude, sorry we’re late. We got really lost on the way here.
1006dean_sam1 Who are you two?
psych1 We’re the totally heterosexual guys who have lived all our lives together and now work hard to stop bad people and save innocent lives. Who are you two?
1006dean_sam2 We’re totally heterosexual guys who have lived all our lives together and now work hard to stop bad things and save innocent lives.
tcurry2 Well I only need one of you. Which pair is the one with the psychic?
shawn *raises hand*
1006sam1 *raises hand*
tcurry2 Look I don’t care. Whichever pair stops the murder will get paid.
psych3 *runs off*
1006dean_sam3 *runs off*
–LATER–
shawn I thought we were the only private eye firm pretending to be psychic.
1006sam1 What do you mean, ‘pretending’?
shawn C’mon guys. We’re all professional here. You don’t have to fake it around me.
1006dean1 No he really had legit psychic powers.
gus Really?
1006sam2 Yeah, but I was cured.
gus I didn’t know you could cure psychic…ness.
1006sam1 It does if you die. Apparently.
gus You’re walking around pretty good for a dead guy.
1006sam1 Yeah, my brother sold his soul to revive me.
1006dean1 But turns out that was all part of a long plot involving a demon releasing Satan from hell.
psych2
1006dean_sam1
gus Shawn! Can I talk to you a moment?
shawn Would you ever sell your soul for me, Gus?
gus No. That’s what I’m telling you. I think we’re in the wrong TV show.
shawn How do you know? Maybe they’re the ones in our TV show.
gus We should ask them something only we would know.
psych2 Hey guys. You guys ever work with Timothy Omundson?
1006dean_sam1 Just last season, actually.
shawn Damn, inconclusive.
gus I know, what if we–
1006dean_sam3 What the hell was that?
psych2 What’s happening?
1006sam1 Dean… I think that was some merchandising.
1006dean1 You’re sure?
1006sam1 No. We best use our Supernatural Oijia board to find out the truth.
<– CLICK NOW TO BUY!!!
1006dean1 Sam! You’re doing it now!
1006sam2 It must be spreading!
1006dean1 Let’s ask Cas for help!
<– CLICK NOW TO BUY!!!
1006dean_sam2 Gah! They merchandised Castiel!
psych3 Nobody’s merchandised anything of ours. :(
1006villain Hello? I’m a murderous shapeshifter and nobody’s even tried killing me yet.
1006sam1 Never mind that, get out now before you’re merchandised!
1006dean1 Wait, how would they do that with a shapesifter?
1006sam1 It’s worse than we thought! Get out now!
shawn But I wanted a tshirt with my face on it.
1006dean1 Trust me, it’s overrated. Move!
1006sam2 Who could be behind this, Dean?
1006dean1
1006sam1
tcurry2 The Supernatural Clue Game.
<– CLICK NOW TO BUY!!!
tcurry1 how it ends, will be up to you…
tHrDhFJ

For those unfamiliar, there is an old(ish) comedy movie called “Clue” based upon the eponymous board game. For their 100th episode, the show Psych did a tribute to said movie. With Supernatural doing a tribute (or advertisement?) to the game, I couldn’t resist the chance to mash together a huge crossover of some of my favorites. Both the movie and that episode are on Netflix so I heartily recommend those who are able to check it out.

Though I’m still disappointed they couldn’t get Tim Curry for this SPN episode. :(

(also this remix is a belated birthday gift to one Miss Nola, apologies for the delay)

(crossposted @ https://supernaturalsnark.wordpress.com/2015/02/14/supernatural-10-06-ask-jeeves-remix/)

Episodes Reviewed – There’s no Place Like Home & About a Boy

There’s no Place Like Home

This season is… strange.  The episode back from a hiatus seems to have a knack for sucking, while the episode FOLLOWING it turns out to be pretty good and (if anything) the episode the post hiatus SHOULD have started with. (No when it comes out on DVD give it a try: watch through and then skip episode 10.10 and see if anything really changes.)

Now I’ll admit that Felicia Day and every character she plays are just so adorable they are always really really hard to hate (and that’s not just my preference for geeky redheads talking).  Still my feelings towards Charlie have in general been a bit “meh.”  She adds a little sister dynamic that the brothers have never had (and it’s a nice touch) but she’s always pulling towards mary sue tendencies.  (Then this episode we find out her real name is “Celeste” which we all know is synonymous with “mary” thus confirming her real last name is Sue.)  I mean still find the most unbelievable thing in the show (after the win8 tablet moment) to be a very liberalish person as her character had been established demonstrating perfect accuracy with a gun. Then in this episode we see her fighting Dean (twice!), who has at least a foot height on her, and who knows how many pounds of mass (a lot of it muscle) as well as empowered by the MoC (something that allows him to go toe to toe with ANGELS) and the fact that she wasn’t paste in five minutes proves that her Sue-Shields are strong and Dean might have more self control than we thought.  Still this episode gave her some much needed humanity so on the whole she ended up earning a +1 favor from me.

I’m still somewhat annoyed that the only way the writers seem able to portray Dean “losing it” is to have him pin someone to the ground and start wailing on their face.  Would be nice for them to show some variety.

Oh which reminds me.  No matter what I might say about Charlie as a character…

Let me explain: Yes we all know fights in Hollywood aren’t real (trust me, I grew in a house of nurses, EMTs, and I’ve worked with the courts, I’ve seen how real fights end up) but the point is suspension of disbelief, and PART of that is that the suspension has a bit of a “weight limit.”  Make something TOO unbelievable, nobody believes what the story is telling them; you have to make it just believable enough.  Thus, when it comes to fights, my standard is that any actor/actress who is willing to show their face as “messed up” during or after a fight (obviously this is makeup, I don’t want people actually beaten) wins my award for “quality and believable action hero.”  2 examples of failures?  1) Daredevil: No matter how much of a beating Ben Affleck takes in that movie, we NEVER see a busted lip or swollen eye or anything – at most he removes a back tooth.  2) Dylan Dog: As far as I know Brandon Roth was supposed to be playing a regular human and not Superman II, yet his face is NEVER damaged in that movie even after several blows that should have left his jaw pulverized.  2 QUALITY examples?  1) The cast at the end of Serenity, especially Nathan Fillon (they LOOK beat up).  2) Jared and Jensen have both ended episodes looking like they took a pounding.  Well at the end of this one?  Felicia Day earns her action hero stripes and yes, is a better action hero than Ben Affleck, Brandon Roth, or some others.

Finally what does it say when we barely see or deal with anything going on in the Land of Oz yet its politics and struggles make more sense than what’s going on with the angels and Heaven RIGHT NOW???

About a Boy

You know… if this had been in season 1 or 2 (where it would fit quite well), this episode would have ranked around a 3, maybe 4.  In season 10?  IT’S POSITIVELY A 5!!

Let’s just count all the ways this episode really, honestly, truly went back to its roots:

  • A teaser monster kill that’s mysterious and interesting!
  • It ties in with a classic tale/legend/folklore!
  • Something happens to one of our heroes that’s wacky and an opportunity for humor while exploring the character. (thought it’s Dean, because it’s ALWAYS Dean, seriously Sam should get a de-age or old age just once)
  • They ACTUALLY SAVE SOMEONE!  And give them a second chance at life!  OMG!
  • The boys think tactically and on their feet when plans go wrong!
  • It closes out on a nice character note!

Heck this one even deserves a slight kudos because they manage to make a MotW episode, that kind of ties into the main arc (the single biggest failing of S5 which would have also been the easiest to fix).

They even came up with a new way to demonstrate Dean’s struggle with the MoC!  Something that wasn’t too over the top but was clear enough that we could know, YES this is dealing with the MoC.

Some days I really wonder if the show runners read my tweets or reviews.

Well, if any of you are?  That moment at the very end of the episode, where Sam gets a reaction to Dean’s choice of music.  THAT!  It’s just 1 second, but that’s ALL we’ve been asking from SPN the last couple of years.  Humor, warmth, a tiny bit of range from the actors, all within ONE second of the show.  That’s all you have to do.  Don’t overplay the moment.  Don’t underplay it to the point that nobody can see the moment.  Just one second.

the Flash 1.10 & 1.11 & 1.12 – Revenge of the Rogues & the Sound and the Fury & Crazy for You

Whoa the hiatus slipped by me!  Time to get caught up.

Revenge of the Rogues

Recap: 2 normal dudes get impossible guns that should destroy all life on earth.  Thankfully with the Flash, science is optional.

Muggle Musings: Continuity!  Returning villains!  All in all, a decent enough episode, I would label this one as the “baseline” for ranking of an average episode for this series.

The best part of it though was the scene between Joe and Harrison.  I don’t know how conscious the writing was for that, but it ended up being a great examination and metaphor for the titanic struggles between two forces over the hero’s soul, one representing the angel on the shoulder, the other the devil.  It hits that sweet spot of subtlety I say writers should aim for where there is a meaning to the scene, a viewer can pick up on it (even if only subconsciously) but it doesn’t beat you over the head with its obviousness screaming “DO YOU GET IT YET?!??!”

It was also nice to see a solution to the villain of the week this time that wasn’t just “I need to run even faster!”  Good to see them mixing it up.

I’m not sure how well his moving back in with Joe will work out but it’s interesting and I commend them for having the guts to try that.  I’ll be interested in seeing where this is going.

Metahuman Musings: Well I’m not big on the “rogues group” of Flash villains so I was just ‘meh’ on Captain Cold and Heatwave, but of course the F.I.R.E.S.T.O.R.M. stuff was awesome!  I thought the actor playing Jason did a fantastic job and I wouldn’t mind seeing him with a “team” working with match-head like Cisco, Caitlin, and Wells work with Flash.

Also nice that they’re involving a plot around it, some deeper conspiracy that they have to investigate.  The show’s been needing a plot hook it can run with other than “Barry is so speshul omg!” Even setting aside my fandom, I find this just a bit more interesting than the ongoing “who is Wells” question. Also we have confirmation that FS WILL have transmutation powers.  Yay!

the Sound and the Fury

Recap: Look we’re going to rip off the Dark Knight right now so we can get it out of the way and everyone can stop bothering us.

Muggle Musings: Lots of little things of note in this episode…

  • Yeah yeah, “villain wanted to be caught”, I’ll give it props this time as how and why are made very clear to the viewer.
  • Well we have official confirmation that Wells has SOME kind of super speed, though if it keeps “failing” one has to wonder how in the world he was able to fight and BEAT the Flash at their last confrontation.
  • Iris got a job… meh.  There was an editorial comment on mellenials that was shoe-horned in.  blegh.
  • Clever plot by the villain at the end.  You might not be able to outrun or outfight the hero, but you can still outthink him.
  • More with firestorm giving us further glimpses of the plot outside Barry.  *cheer*

So I’d rank this slightly above the previous episode on the strength of the actors (especially Piper, I liked that his being gay wasn’t the be all and end all of his character nor being deaf, there was more to him).

I almost started to care about Iris too, so there’s something to be said for that.  Her becoming a reporter (even though that is comic sourced) here makes the parallels between Barry in this TV ‘verse and Superman in general even more obvious.

Metahuman Musings: Some little shout outs and source nods in this one.  Of course it’s funny because comic fans “know” that Caitlin should become Killer Frost and Cisco should become Vibe so every time something happens related along those lines (like the cold gun just missing Caitlin last episode, sound waves hitting Cisco this one) a lot of us keep holding our breath to find out if this time, THIS time comic book science will happen and that person will gain their “true form” so to speak.

Also we have mention and confirmation of THE SPEED FORCE!  So the show is definitely not getting too snooty for its roots. :D

Crazy for You

Recap: Flash finally faces someone even faster than him!

Muggle Musings: Well it’s hard to complain about this episode when Caitlin looked so good in it.

Oh right there’s a plot here! 2 actually.  Cisco gets his own while Barry & Caitlin have a night out.  Their moment was adorable.  Not as adorable as Barry/Felicity, but adorable nonetheless.

Cisco meanwhile got to step out of the shadow of his coworkers and shine on his own, revealing that he really can be crafty as well as brilliant and has more layers to his character than just being a jokester.  I have to admit that between him and Julio, the Flash when he’s on TV has a knack for having “comic relief” friends that aren’t a pain to endure.

The rest of it was pretty good, giving Barry a nice challenge of someone faster than him but not like a redo of evil Flash.  Though with her and (formerly) Hartley down there, I keep wondering what Flash & Co are doing about food and sewage for their prisoners.  Not that I need to know, but it’s kind of funny to think about.

Of course the advancement of the Firestorm plot was good too.  I am kind of wondering how Hartley knew about it, though.

Finally, you know what?  I’ll admit it, I shed a few manly tears in the scene between Barry and his dad.  John and Grant have great chemistry as a father/son duo and make it really believable. Excellent, excellent job guys.

Metahuman Musings: GRODD GRODD GRODD

GRODD. GRODD GRODD GROOD.

grodd GRODD grodd

Episode Review – the Hunter Games

So… what’s there really to say about this episode?

No, you know what we can say about this episode? After a midseason hellatus, this was an episode about nothing.  Sure it had the ILLUSION of being about something, but really, what REALLY happened this episode? What changed at the end of this episode from the beginning?

Pretty much just Castiel and Claire getting an improved relationship.  Which is also why that ended up being the most compelling part of the episode.  The other reason it was the best part of the episode?  The audience could understand and GRASP it.  We could at least follow what was going on. (Though I still don’t know why Dean was asked to call Claire when there was EVERY. LOGICAL. REASON. for Sam to be the one to do it.)

What’s going on with the angels?  Crowley?  Metatron?  The Mark of Cain? NOBODY KNOWS!  (the writers MIGHT but I’m starting to doubt even that)  Any claims about these things are just speculations with no standard to weigh one fan’s theory against another.

It’s not quite up to S9 level yet, but it’s getting there.  Every time Metatron appears the question of why they don’t take his grace builds and builds.  What does Metatron want or even desire?  To be “the cool kid”?  Why do you say that?  Because of actual lines or actions taken to those ends, or because that’s the role poor Curtis Armstrong ALWAYS ends up playing? (I was hoping they’d give him a new role in the show.)  Does Mama Crowley have a plan or is she just winging it and seeing what happens?  Have the boys even TRIED to go find Cain?  (WHY NOT???)  Can Dean even die with the MoC on him or will he just respawn?  Is Cas in charge in Heaven or not?  What is he concerned about?  Has Crowley or anyone considered the potential use of the Door to Heaven?  Why take Metatron to the bunker?  Why not talk to him in Heaven? Maybe invite the Winchesters up there or get one of their former allies to do a solid.

You know, for the Supernatural ‘Verse, I’m planning for a 2 part episode with someone else helping me write it.  So, I’m not unsympathetic to the challenges of getting a collaboration between people to create a story, I’ll admit it’s not easy and I’m working on a much smaller scale.  At times though, one has to ask if the current makers of SPN are actually collaborating because increasingly it seems like every episode is written by someone alone in a room with no idea what the other people are writing.  Which makes the show a chore to watch and thinking the enemy of enjoying the story.

And both of those are the LAST things a TV show should ask of its audience.

the Flash 1.09 – the Man in the Yellow Suit

Recap: Firestorm! Firestorm! Firestorm! Firestorm! Firestorm! FIRESTORM! FIRESTORM!!

Muggle Musings

I must admit that from a pure story standpoint, the impact of this episode is just a little weaker than had we had more reminders about Ronnie’s disappearance or Catlin’s sorrow.  Or had the references to those been mentioned in the episodes closer to this one rather than at the other end of the season as they were.  As a consequence, the impact of Ronnie’s return is lessened for the audience and dependent entirely on Danielle Panabaker’s acting.  Which she does pretty good with but… was still missing the ‘umph’ this episode needed.

Of course her acting was also competing with powerful moments by John Wesley Shipp and Jesse L. Martin this episode as well as the story of Barry Allen’s family comes to a head.  This was an episode filled with emotion and I think everybody involved did the best they could, though the show could have used an arc episode prior to this one to “prime the field” so to speak.  As it is… we’re kind of left wondering “why now?” with the bad guy.  Still it was great to see Amanda Pays returning as Tina McGee.

And we do have confirmation that Harrison Wells is the bad guy some how, though the exact nature of that connection is still up for debate, including how he beat himself up.

Still, even setting aside my comic-fanboyism, I liked Firestorm’s “save” at the end as it demonstrated both to the audience and the characters that maybe the show won’t be in a rut towards metahumans.  Not all of them have to be villains, locked away.  Some might yet follow Barry’s example and be heroes.  Barry might be an inspiration for more than just hope…

Metahuman Musings

In the spirit of this momentous episode, I asked Shag of firestormfan.com (the best firestorm site on the web) to a little round table.

1) So how much have you been enjoying the show even WITHOUT all the blatant pandering they’ve done for us?

Shag: I’ve really enjoyed the show quite a bit.  It’s got a fun spirit and lots of action.  As this is a CW show, it also comes with lots of eye-candy and melodrama, which I’m fine with as long as it doesn’t overshadow the plot. Another thing I love about the show is I can watch it with my entire family.  I’ve got two children (ages 15 and 8) and they LOVE the show.  It’s the only show we insist on watching as its broadcast; everything else is recorded and watched at our convenience.  It’s so good, we don’t want to wait!

2) Which Reverse Flash do you think Harrison Wells is?
Me: I’m still betting that he’s Zoom.
Shag: I’m pretty convinced Harrison Wells is the Hunter Zolomon version of Zoom.  He’s trying to make Barry a better hero.  I also suspect quite a bit of time travel is going on.  For example, I think what we saw at the end of the mid-season finale was Harrison charging up the costume for the first time. Therefore, the Reverse Flash that acquired the device was actually from the future, came back in time to steal the device and give it to modern day Harrison, thus creating a paradox by helping himself get superpowers.  Mind-blown!  I gotta assume Eddie will become Reverse Flash at some point, but probably in a future season.
3) As you’ve said, Firestorm has had a lot of iterations over the years, but fundamentally he has 2 forms: nuclear or fire elemental.  So which one do you think the show is using and which one would you prefer?

Me: I’m starting to think that they’re going to go with the elemental for simplicity, budget, & balance issues, but I still hope for the nuclear option.

Shag: I think we’re getting the classic Firestorm, but with an altered set of powers and personality.  He clearly has fire projection powers now, which the classic Firestorm does not have.  In the comics, he can shoot nuclear blasts which generate heat, but not actual flames.  The comic version has other powers that are missing from television so far, most notably transmutation and intangibility.  The Elemental Firestorm from the comics does have flame powers, but his level of control is off the chart (like he can raze the surface of the entire Earth if desired).  The Elemental version also comes with a lot of other issues (i.e. being an elemental force of the planet, control over all flames, complete emotional detachment, etc).   Hopefully when we see Professor Stein (Victor Garber) in the Firestorm matrix the transmutation powers will appear.  In regard to his personality, hopefully Firestorm on television will find a sense of fun eventually.  His sense of adventure and joy were characteristics that helped make Firestorm so popular in the comics during the 1980s.  The moments we saw Ronnie (Robbie Amell) and Caitlin (Danielle Panabaker) prior to the accident, Ronnie seemed upbeat and jovial.  Hopefully we’ll get back to that.
4) The show’s been giving us a lot of love by having Flash tackle some of Firestorm’s rogues gallery.  Which rogue appearance (so far) has been your favorite?  Who, unseen and unannounced, would you like to see them bring to the show?
Shag: Of the Firestorm rogues that have appeared, I think my favorite was Plastique.  She was given a good amount of screen time and they really fleshed out her character.  They deviated from the comic version of Plastique in many ways, but I was okay with the character on-screen.  Kelly Frye did a great job with the character she was given. I hope they bring her back to the show (in comics, dead characters don’t stay dead for long).  In regard to future Firestorm rogues, I’m hoping for Hyena or Typhoon.  Hyena is a completely savage hand-to-hand fighter.  That would be an interesting contrast for Barry.  It would require some significant CGI, but it would be fantastic!  Typhoon in full CGI would look amazing!  They would have to go beyond a water spout since they already did a tornado for Weather Wizard.  My theory on why they are using so many Firestorm rogues is so the writers can introduce Flash rogues at a slower pace.  Let’s face it, they are hoping this show lasts for many seasons.  If they introduce all the Flash rogues in the first 20 episodes or so, who is left to be the “big bad” in seasons 2, 3, etc?  With so many Firestorm rogues appearing, I’m just waiting for them to announce the Zuggernaut and Bazooka Joan!  ;)

Me: Hah!  Well I give it to Multiplex on that, and here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of him.  Now in the future… I wouldn’t mind either of your suggestions but well this show has possible time-travel shenanigans doesn’t it?  So maybe Reverse Flash will team up with the Flying Dutchman!

5) Is there anything Firestorm related in the show that you’re just the teeniest bit disappointed in?
Shag: I’m not sure I’m disappointed in anything yet as it’s still so early in Firestorm’s development.   Once the character is fully fleshed out, I hope his powers and personality are similar to the classic Firestorm.  If he’s angry all the time and only has flame powers, that would be a disappointment.  I was also hoping that Danton Black (Multiplex) would have been connected to Professor Stein, but that’s a really minor (and geeky) quibble.
Me: I hear you.  I was really hoping for a revelation that Martin Stein helped Harrison Wells in building the particle accelerator.
6) So how feasible do you think a CW show staring Firestorm would be in this CW-DC ‘verse?
Shag: Funny thing about Firestorm on TV… every single prediction or guess I’ve made has been WRONG.  I swore they’d never produce a live action Firestorm… WRONG.  Once announced, I was sure Firestorm on TV would be Ronnie and Jason… WRONG.  I was sure they wouldn’t have Firestorm burning as it would be too much CGI… WRONG.  To answer your question, is it feasible to produce a Firestorm TV show?  Well, seems like it would be expensive on the CGI, hard to get Victor Garber full-time, and they’ve used most of his villains already.  Those elements combined makes it seem unlikely to me.  So let’s hope I’m … WRONG.  :)

Me: Well I still have to catch up on some earlier FS comics, but of what I’ve read it seems not uncommon for the issues to resolve around a character-driven mystery with FS showing up near the end to solve the problem in five minutes.  So a show structure of 45 minutes-finding the problem, 15-minutes fixing it, could work for a few short seasons if they needed a summer fill-in show.

7) You willing to come back and do this again next time we have a big Firestorm episode?

Shag: Sure thing! Happy to come back and discuss my favorite Nuclear Man!!
Me: You’re welcome back any time.