Review – The Flash, “Fast Enough”

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So… that happened.

The Flash‘s premiere season crashed to a close in a finale filled with sadness, surprises and – of course – super speeding. But before we get to that, let’s go back to the beginning…

Harrison Wells (a.k.a. Eobard Thawne) explains his overall plan to Barry: he came back to erase The Flash from his time by killing him as a boy but was thwarted by adult Barry, then he lost his super speed. Now, his plan is to use the particle accelerator to effect time travel, allowing Barry to go back and save his mom and to send Thawne back to the future. The big question becomes… will Barry do it?

After a lot of soul-searching, Barry and Company decide to perform the time travel even though it will change all their futures. In the meantime, Stein convinces Eddie to go after Iris despite Thawne’s future predictions. And Ronnie and Catlyn get married.

Even though they realize that they could create an Earth-eating singularity if the their timing is wrong, Team Flash sends Barry back in time. But he decides not to save his mom, saying goodbye to her instead. Then he returns to thwart Thawne’s return to the future. Thawne fights back and – to save Barry and everyone – Eddie mortally shoots himself… thus preventing Thawne from ever being born.

Just as Eddie sacrifices himself for his friends, Team Flash discovers that they have indeed accidentally created a singularity which now threatens the planet. Barry decides to try to destroy it by running in reverse of the accretion disc to disrupt it.

And… fade to black.

What Hit the Target

Eddie, no! Poor Eddie is a character who started out a little boring but grew on me quite a lot over the course of the year. His self-inflicted death was shocking and brilliant. I really hope this isn’t the last we see of him.

After so much hand-wringing about saving his mother and resetting time to ‘the way it was supposed to be’, it was fantastic to see Barry make the decision to leave things as they were. It feels like Barry may have made that decision at the scene of the wedding, realizing in that moment that his family was those who had shared this particular journey with him. That was a great resolution to the season-long arc about Nora’s death.

Ooh, teasers! Jay Garrick’s helmet. Rip Hunter (soon to be on the spinoff show, Legends of Tomorrow). Cisco’s powers. Killer Frost. Hawkgirl. So many good things to come!

What Missed the Mark

It’s unclear at what point Barry decided to not save his mother. I’m hoping it was done on the spur of the moment once he had arrived back in time (perhaps this alluded to by the silent exchange with the other Flash), because if it wasn’t, it was an incredibly irresponsible and downright wrong thing to do given that he changed nothing and still knew he was putting in danger all of human existence in the process.

The huge, hovering singularity seems a bit too much. The rest of the episode felt very real and a natural build-up, but the singularity just seemed to come out of left-field story-wise. And how could Barry – even as superpowered as he is – defeat a black hole? It’s the only part of the episode that didn’t ring true.

Hopefully, the paradox created by Eddie’s death will be addressed when we return in Season 2. If Thawne had indeed been erased from existence, everything should have changed at that moment, since he would never have affected anything or anyone at all.

The Final Score

The finale is an appropriate mix of drama, decision-making and action. The first half is a little light on action, but everyone gets a nice moment to shine. What Barry finally decides to do – or not do – with his own timeline is perfect for the character. Eddie’s shocking death and the (supposed) loss of Thawne were something you couldn’t see coming. Add in the easter eggs and potential shake-ups to Team Flash, and the season goes out on a solid footing. Hopefully, the new season hurries up!

And the Quote of the Week is really two excellent Cisco quotes because I couldn’t decide:

“So long and thanks for all the fish.”
and
“May the speed force be with you.”

Stuff I’ve Never Read – “City” by Clifford D. Simak

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I was recently loaned a well-worn copy of “City” by a friend of mine. I hadn’t heard of “City”, so I went into the book with no expectations. And while it can be a bit dated at times, I found it to be a real page-turner!

“City” is not so much a novel as it is a collection of short stories all following a single thread. The stories begin in the near future of Earth and extend through the centuries – and even millennia – that follow. The thread that weaves the vignettes all together is one family, whose successive generations find themselves at the center of humanity’s future history – for better and for worse. And the whole thing is peppered with commentary from a future historian of a very peculiar nature.

“City” was originally created in 1952, so there is some questionable science that can be disregarded. Other scientific aspects of the stories are intriguing, though. One of my favorites is the idea that humans seeking to colonize uninhabitable worlds would change themselves instead of changing the environment.

The first tale starts out a little slowly, but things heat up quickly. Simak had a way with brilliant plot twists and fantastical ideas. I was hooked by the second story and dying to know how it all turns out by the time I finished. So if you’re looking for a classic that holds up well even after 60 years, go check out “City” sometime soon!

Review – Arrow, “My Name is Oliver Queen”

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This week, Arrow goes out with a bang (literally in some cases) and some serious changes to Team Arrow.

Barry, called in to help by Oliver, rescues Team Arrow from the dungeon. Oliver, meanwhile, is flying with Rah’s al Ghul to drop the bioweapon on Starling City. But he has sabotaged the plane and crashes it intentionally. However, Rah’s gets away.

Malcolm, Oliver, Nyssa and Team Arrow agree to put aside their differences temporarily in order to try to save the city. They briefly encounter Rah’s’ nemesis, Damian Dark (who is likely to be a Big Baddie next year) and learn that the weapon is being carried in the blood of four League assassins.

Oliver duels with Rah’s while Team Arrow stops the four assassins. Thea, wearing Arsenal’s old outfit, joins them. Oliver eventually beats Rah’s but is nearly killed by the police, despite Lance’s attempts to stop them. Felicity dons the ATOM suit and saves him from death by fall.

Having saved the city, Oliver decides to leave the Arrow behind. He runs away with Felicity for a happier life. But first, he gives Malcolm something ‘as agreed’. It turns out to be the symbol of leadership Oliver got from the dying Rah’s. Malcom becomes the new Rah’s al Ghul.

Finally, Ray’s attempts at altering the ATOM suit for miniaturization result in a terrible explosion at Palmer Technologies.

In the flashbacks, Oliver, Maseo and Tatsu come to grips with Akio’s death. Oliver tortures the general in charge of the bioweapon attack. Maseo leaves (presumably to join the League). Tatsu heads off for a life of solitude. And Oliver says that he can’t return home because of the person he’s become. He heads off to be alone as well.

What Hit the Target

I know that many fans will balk at the Olicity ending of this and recent episodes (and I agree it was a bit heavy handed), but I liked the way things keep circling back to Felicity and Oliver despite comic canon. There’s a natural chemistry there and I hope it doesn’t get undone next year.

It’s also great that the show is proving itself willing to shake up the status quo and make permanent changes to the characters. While watching the scenes of everyone being mad at Oliver, I was secretly hoping that this time it would stick and Team Arrow wouldn’t return to a boring and redundant status quo. Stephen Amell assures us that things will indeed remain altered next year, and I hope he’s right. That potential wasn’t quite played out enough after Oliver ‘died’ in the winter finale, “The Climb.” Let’s follow through better this time, writers.

Miniaturization technology and a terrible accident… I smell awesome ATOM mini-action in our future!

What Missed the Mark

I’m ambivalent about Thea taking over the red mantle. Her transformation from whiny CW teen to supposed badass ninja still doesn’t feel earned (although at least it’s better than Laurel’s was). On the other hand, at least she might have a reason to be on the show now, aside from giving Oliver reason to feel bad.

Also suffering from questionable writing is Quentin Lance. It was uncomfortable to watch him turmed into a nemesis in recent episodes, and now they’ve suddenly decided to add him drinking again. That revelatory scene with Laurel seemed to come out of the blue and wasn’t worthy of the character. Then they wrote him suddenly softening about Team Arrow, undercutting the arc they’d put him on. His characterization was just weak in this final episode.

Barry’s crossover appearance was fun but way too short. His excuse for not sticking around and his speech were both less than stellar additions to the episode.

Is everyone making superhero costumes that are ‘one size fits all’ now? Is there some kind of one-hour costume tailoring shop open all night in Starling City? Or is Team Arrow just exceptionally good at resewing leather outfits on the fly…?

The Final Tally

As always, Arrow delivers a solid season finale filled with both character work and good action. Although Oliver defeats Rah’s a little too easily given their last encounter, it’s a solid climax. Team Arrow suffers some permanent changes due to the story arcs this year, which will hopefully bring fun new things in the coming year.

Review – The Flash, “Rogue Air”

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The penultimate episode of the season comes with some truly unsurprising twists and a couple of great ones.

Team Flash discovers that Wells has been hiding in the basement of the particle accelerator doing who-knows-what. They rescue Eddie but Wells gets away. Unfortunately, he’s powered up the particle accelerator for his own nefarious purposes, putting in danger the remaining metahumans being kept inside it.

To prevent them from being killed when the ring goes active, Barry decides to send them to Lian Yu via ARGUS transport plane. But he needs help keeping them on ice during the truck ride to the airport. When other options fail, he makes a deal with Captain Cold to help protect them all in exchange for erasing Snart’s identity and criminal history.

Of course, Snart double-crosses Barry and facilitates the metahumans getting out. Snart, his sister, Weather Wizard, Rainbow Raider, Peek-a-Boo and the Mist all escape. Joe chides Barry for trying to go about this the wrong way.

Wells shows up at STAR Labs looking for a Speedster Duel and Barry gives him one. But unbeknownst to Wells, Barry has called in some reinforcements: Oliver Queen and Ronnie Raymond. The three take on the Reverse-Flash, eventually managing to put one of Oliver’s special arrows in Wells’ back. (You know you’re cool when you get to take down the main villain on someone else’s show!)

Oh, and Eddie breaks up with Iris. But does anyone really care? There’s gonna be some cool time travel next week and a crossover Arrow episode to look forward to!

What Hit the Target

I was pleasantly unspoiled about the big appearance of Oliver and Ronnie, so that was a fantastic surprise. The three-way fight was great, answering the question of how you fight a maniacal speedster when you don’t have super-speed. Given that this great climax wasn’t even the season finale, I can’t wait to see where it goes next week!

Green Lantern nod… that’s awesome!

Leonard Snart is possibly the best Rogue in the series so far. His logical explanation for betraying Barry is spot-on and delivered masterfully by Wentworth Miller.

Arrow/Flash crossover warning. Who’s intrigued?

What Missed the Mark

It was so painfully obvious that the transport was going to go pear-shaped. Whether it was Captain Cold’s deviousness or something else that would ruin their plans, it was inevitable and weighed down the episode.

I am so over Iris and her love triangles, hurt feelings and self-centeredness. I don’t hate the character, but she really has been let down by mediocre dialogue and a storyline that’s stuck in CW Dramaville.  I hope they find something interesting for her to do next season.

Cisco flirting with Lisa Snart was creepy and disappointing. She’s a nutcase baddie who had a hand in torturing his brother and himself. Why exactly did the writers think he should be exchanging wistful looks with her? If he were female, we’d all be complaining about the creepiness and general wrong-ness of this Stockholm Syndrome behavior. It’s still not funny just because he’s male.

The Final Rundown

While the bit about moving the metahumans and how it would go wrong was too easily figured out, the appearance of several Rogues fighting Team Flash as well as the arrival of Oliver Queen made up for it. I like the fact that this show emphasizes that it’s not Arrow and that Barry is not Oliver even as it works in Arrow crossovers. Leonard Snart makes another good guest appearance and we’re nicely set up for the big season finale time travel event. Bring on next week!