Thursday, October 6, 2016

Oh, The Metahumanity! (Oct 4-5)

I like Wally's costume and not much else.
Agents of SHIELD took the week off, possibly to get out of the way of the CW premiere week, which was good for me, because it let me wash the Flash taste out of my mout with an episode of Luke Cage.

The Flash: "Flashpoint" (40% Stupid)

That was a rough, rough ride. I thought about assigning a range to the stupid number for this episode, because if you accept the general level of Flash Season 2 bullshit that led up to this episode, about half the bullshit in the Season 3 premiere almost kind of work.

Oh, you're still left with a lot of clunky Destiny Love bullshit between Barry and Iris, a lot of clunky Awkward Berry stuff between Barry and Iris, and the persistent question of why, when people who've been with Barry through everything that's happened don't automatically assume timeline shit is going down when Barry appears acting overly emotional and weird.

But the stuff with Thawne could be good, and the stuff with the Rival Flash could be good, and even the stuff with Barry losing his memories could have been good, if it weren't all in service of Barry having to learn the same lesson he's learned at least twice before. We end the episode in yet another version of the timeline, so I guess we'll be hopping timelines episode by episode until we reach some sort of stable conclusion? It'd be ballsy for the show to go with something that affects the relationships between the characters without changing the kind of large-scale status quo that would fuck with the other shows, but I don't think that's in the cards.

Luke Cage: "Code of the Streets" (5% Stupid)

I know it's weird, but just be aware that I'm not gonna talk about race in Luke Cage unless I feel really confident I'm qualified to, and so far, that has not been the case. I mean, even two episodes in, the show is steeped in racial politics and black culture to such an extent that, as a suburban white guy, I just need to sit back, accept it as it is, and let other people wrangle over it if they think they have to.

What I'm loving about the show is the tension they manage to draw out of just the interactions and relationships between the characters. There's a weight and a heft to every scene - even the lighter, funnier ones, like Cage's reaction to learning Misty Knight's actual job - that most shows can't even come close to by their second season, much less their second episode.

Or take Cage's speech that beautifully bookends the episode. When he starts by saying he's had a long day, you think he's talking about Episode 1. By the time it loops around, and you realize the long day is actually the much more serious events of Episode 2, what is a very difficult speech to pull off at the best of times clicks into place thanks to both the setup and Mike Colter's fantastic performance.

I had three small problems with the episode, one of which is a spoiler, but you're all ahread of me by now anyway. Even so, I'll put the spoiler third. First, and this is minor, but it's as yet unclear whether putting the hood up or taking the hood down is an indication that street justice is about to be dispensed. Second, the guy who played Chico didn't do a great job in his one big motel room scene. And third, the spoiler, is the super-obvious Joseph Campbell motivational mentor death. I'm not saying it doesn't work. I'm not saying the show didn't build the relationship so effectively in an episode and a half that it didn't hit home, and hit hard. I'm just saying it's a trope I was hoping the show would avoid, and it didn't.

Arrow: "Legacy" (20% Stupid)

This show has a the same problem as the Flash premiere, in that it rehashes a lot of the lessons you'd think we'd covered already in Arrow. Should Ollie kill people or not? How do you deal with a hotheaded wannabe vigilante who won't leave you alone? (Shoot him in the leg). There's a crime boss taking over Star City! There's an evil version of The Arrow!

Luckily, the shit Arrow is rehashing is objectively better than the shit Flash is rehatching, so it's not nearly as painful to watch. The show also includes some startlingly unrealistic portrayals of addiction recovery (Quentin's drunk again! He heard a speech! He's not drunk anymore!) and politics (Everyone laughs at the mayor! He gave a speech! He's not unpopular anymore!), but that's offset by the fun Russian flashbacks and Felicity's fuck-you attitude towards giving Ollie advice. I am reserving judgment on Felicity's New Boyfriend for the time being.

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