This week gave fans two extraordinary episodes in both of The CW’s DC Comics based shows – “The Flash” and “Arrow.” While “The Flash” has maintained its fun and optimistic nature (skewering closer towards a small screen version of Superman), “Arrow” has remained as dark and brooding as ever. I don’t believe I need to even mention the iconic DC character that The CW’s “Arrow” brings to mind. With that said, while I did have to catch up on The Flash today, I was able to watch “Arrow” live as I nearly always do. Instead of the usual format of breaking down each episode for recap and review, I’m going to try something different for “The Trap” episode of The Flash and “Al Sa-Him” episode of Arrow. Consider this a one-shot Recap/Review of “The Flash” and “Arrow.”
The Flash – “The Trap” 4/28/2015
“The Flash Missing. Vanishes in Crisis.” At least that’s what the headline reads from a paper in the year 2024. When we last left off with Team Flash – Barry, Joe, Cisco, and Caitlin confronted the reality that Harrison Wells is not the man they thought he was. In fact, he’s not even the real Dr. Wells. After a trip to Starling City, Joe and Cisco discovered the buried corpse of Wells. What they don’t know is who exactly is behind the flesh of Harrison Wells whom we all know to really be Eobard Thawne, time-traveller, genius, murder, and the Man in Yellow. Thawne, stranded in the past and centuries away from his time, stole to body of Harrison Wells in order to speed up the process of him developing the particle accelerator which would, in turn, gift Barry Allen with the speed force. The very same speed force that could unlock the answers to the question of how he can get back to the future.
During the opening moments of “The Trap”, we learn from the A.I. named Gideon that Barry Allen will become the director of the Central City Police Department C.S.I. division along with becoming a founding member of… Sorry, as all us fans got excited for a certain League to be name dropped, Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin are alerted to Wells’ arrival back at S.T.A.R. Labs.
Team Flash eventually create an elaborate plan to stop Wells, but only after he confesses to the murder of Barry’s mother, Nora. We learn from Gideon that Nora was killed by Wells out of anger that Barry escaped. But what did he escape? We never find out. Some time later, and after Cisco uses a device to enable him to recall his dreams of being killed by Wells (it plays a tad like “Inception” which Cisco actually refers too) they decide on trapping Wells in the containment unit by using the same technology that would have stopped him in the first place. Unfortunately, the plan goes awry as Wells is onto them and uses a decoy in the form of Hannibal Bates a.k.a. Everyman. Joe shoots Bates believing him to be Wells right before he kills Cisco in the same Temple of Doom way that he did a few episodes back. (“Out of Time.”) Wells/Thawne calls Barry and confesses that he’s been on to them and manipulating them since day one. Even more disturbing is that Wells has had them all under surveillance at nearly every moment of their days. He then alerts Barry of his next target – Iris West. She’s with Eddie Thawne, Joe’s partner, and he’s going to propose to her even though her father, Joe, did not give his blessing. Before he could show her the ring, The Reverse Flash zooms in and takes Eddie. The Flash shows up too late, but comforts Iris by promising that he will return Eddie. They touch hands and it causes the same spark she felt when she touched Barry’s hand in the hospital while he was being treated after the particle accelerator accident. It would appear as if Iris has now realized in this timeline that Barry is The Flash.
But that’s not all. The Reverse Flash took Eddie to the same underground facility that we’ve seen as the home to Gorilla Grodd. He reveals himself as Eobard Thawne to a confused Eddie. Eddie is unsure as to the nature of their relationship and, well, it’s left open-ended as to the fact that Eddie may very well be Eobard/Wells/Reverse Flash’s father!
And the obligatory after credits scene we’ve all come to love, expect, want, and need from our superhero entertainment! In a flashback, we see Wells/Eobard visit Barry in the hospital. He tells the man who will one day become his greatest nemesis that he’s wanted to kill him for a very long time. Eobard explains that he’s known Barry only as an older man and a seasoned hero so it’s odd to see him at this stage of his life (Barry is 25 years old). He hints that he will be the one to endow him with his abilities and eventually stop him. “The Trap” was an exciting episode and some of the best episodes of “The Flash” are just like the comic books in concept and tone. They concern themselves with time-travel. It’s odd to think of “The Flash” as a time-travel show as it’s a different play on the material, but it works so well. The cast and crew also deliver on the drama and spectacle in such a way that The CW’s “The Flash” always feels like a mini movie of sorts on a weekly, Tuesday basis.
“The Trap” episode of “The Flash” gets five out of five stars!
Arrow – “Al Sa-Him” 4/29/2015
I love The CW’s “Arrow” and while the cinematic quality isn’t nearly as high as “The Flash”, nor is it as gritty as Netflix’s “Daredevil”, it’s never attempted to be those hit series. “Arrow” is proudly it’s own show as it should be. Maybe at times it feels like it’s DC and The CW’s attempt to get television watchers as close to Batman as possible, but “Arrow” is “Arrow.” Nothing more, nothing less and that’s exactly one of the reasons why I’ve developed such a soft spot for this series over the past two years.
This third season of “Arrow” has really delivered on the previous two season’s build up of Ra’s Al Ghul and The League of Assassins. In much of the way “Iron Man 3” failed fans in its presentation of The Mandarin, “Arrow” has delivered pearls in its adaptation of one of Batman’s fiercest opponents. It also happens to work terrifically well in the favor of “Arrow” that they cast Matt Nable. Walk into a local comic shop on a Thursday and I’m sure you’ll hear plenty of fans tell you that he is not only the best version of the character, but the most definitive version as well. I’d agree and look no further than the episode of “Al Sa-Him” for proof.
Oliver Queen has been training with Ra’s Al Ghul for three arduous weeks in the process of becoming the heir to the demon. Later in the episode, Nyssa Al Ghul explains to Team Arrow (Diggle, Felicity, Laurel, and Thea) that the League reprograms its member under the guise of ritual and ceremony. Most likely, Oliver doesn’t even realize that Ra’s is stripping away everything that made him the man he used to be. After the end of his three weeks, Ra’s retells a story from his past concerning a friend/rival he let live. Both men were in favor to become the heir to the demon before them, another Ra’s, and since Ra’s (Matt Nable) was the one in favor, he was instructed to kill his friend. Ra’s chose to let Damian Darhk live and in turn, Darhk stole water from the Lazarus Pit and created his own League. It’s an interesting set-up that fans have already begun to speculate on such as if Damian Darhk is really just a smoke screen for another well known Damian in the DC Universe and if this person will be the series four baddie. It’s a little too early to think about that, especially since there are far more interesting developments already happening.
Did you watch the episode of “Al Sa-Him”? Well, if you didn’t, here are the highlights.
Nyssa has been training Laurel in the ways of the League. Gone are the days of her getting beaten on a fairly routine basis as Canary and now she actually is “a genuine bad-ass who can actually kick-ass.” Sorry to borrow a quote from “Kick-Ass 2”, but it does seem the most appropriate here, especially in regards to Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance/ Black Canary. She fights throughout the episode and is actually quite fierce, but nothing steals the moment better than when she delivers the trademark “Canary Cry” courtesy of Cisco Ramon. It works pretty much like how it does in the comics. She opens her mouth to scream and out comes a cry nearly as deafening and piercing like a banshee! Or should I say canary?
We then are treated to a quieter moment that finds Laurel treating her new friend out to her favorite diner. While some probably would take this as a mere CW throwaway moment, I’d actually argue that it isn’t. While “Arrow” remains one of the darkest and most brooding looks at people fighting crime, it’s the lighter moments and more “real” moments that establish “Arrow” and the DC universe in such a different way than others. While Team Flash on CW’s “The Flash” probably is you and your friends, Team Arrow on “Arrow” are the group of people you wish you knew (and had as friends.) I like that Laurel is a vigilante/super hero. I have greatly enjoyed her arc over the season, despite it’s cheapening of sorts to the role Ted “Wildcat” Grant plays in her journey in becoming the Black Canary. Katie Cassidy has brought so much vigor and new life into Laurel that she’s one of the most entertaining of characters on the show. So much so that because of her (and let’s not forget Caity Lotz as Canary) that I’ll be adding DC Comics “Black Canary” solo series to my pull list this June.
By the way, Nyssa Al Ghul didn’t know what a milkshake is. “What is a black and white milkshake?”
Outside of the fluffier moments, situations get serious once Al Sa-Him a.k.a Oliver returns to Starling City. On a mission from The Demon, he sets out to find Nyssa and bring her back to Nanda Parbat. At first he’s thwarted by Diggle and the Black Canary, but later he’s successful after he kidnaps his ex-best friend’s wife Lyla Diggle. Diggle, along with The Black Canary and Felicity set out to rescue Lyla, but first have an intense showdown with Al-Sa-Him/ Oliver and the League of Assassins. “Dark Oliver”, the name Felicity gives him, gets Diggle in a compromising position and right before he could deliver the fatal blow, Thea arrives and shoots him in the forearm with an arrow.
“Dark Oliver” returns to Nanda Parbat with Nyssa and brings her before Ra’s. He instructs him to do what is necessary as she needs to be punished for turning against her father and the League. “Dark Oliver” is a moment away from killing Nyssa, but Ra’s Al Ghul stops him. He tells him that he’s successfully become his heir and has long rid himself of the qualities he once had as Oliver Queen a.k.a. the Arrow. He instructs Nyssa that she will be Oliver’s bride and that they will wed! “Bride of The Demon.” Ra’s announces. It’s another extremely satisfying and exciting moment as the idea of being heir to Ra’s Al Ghul and being worthy of marrying his daughter is straight from the pages of the classic run by Denny O’ Neil. Instead of Talia Al Ghul, “Arrow” has switched Talia for Nyssa due to contractual reasons. But it works just the same.
Both men then take a walk over to the Lazarus Pit. As the waters flow from the spring behind them, Ra’s tells Oliver that Nyssa had stolen a weapon from him – the very same weapon that Oliver, Maseo, and Tatsu once tried to stop in Hong Kong many years earlier – the Alpha/Omega bio-weapon! And guess what, Ra’s Al Ghul’s ultimate plan is to have Oliver return to Starling and unleash the weapon, thus destroying his city. Just as Ra’s Al Ghul has done in the past – Alexandria, the plague… We all saw “Batman Begins.”
I love “Arrow” and with only 2 more episodes left, I think this season is only going to get better. With the dynamic portrayals of all the new characters – Matt Nable as Ra’s Al Ghul and Katie Cassidy as Black Canary, I’m already expecting DC Collectibles to announce them as upcoming figures in their hit “Arrow” line of action figures! Season three has been the strongest season yet for The CW’s “Arrow” and the episode “Al Sa-Him” gets five stars.
“The Flash” airs Tuesday nights at 8 PM. “Arrow” airs Wednesday nights at 8 PM. Both shows play on The CW. Check your local listings.