Superhero Showdown #9

Mar 21 – 25 

Goodbyes are rarely easy. Sometimes they are amicable, filled with good wishes, happy partings and excitement, bubbling anticipation for the next meeting. Other times, they are marred in heartbreak, tears, disillusionment, a healthy dose of anger, possibly bloodshed, and shots of alcohol as it’s chaser. Goodbyes were seen and heard aplenty on this week’s superhero-laden lane of television and they definitely gave our heroes a healthy dose of introspection and uncertainty about their futures. You know the rules: 5 shows, 3 rounds, and only 1 victor. We are one member short this week with Legends of Tomorrow still on their mini hiatus but this is definitely still going to be an all-out fight between the remaining players.

Let’s get to it.

Round 1 

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Returning from its mini-hiatus is and dropping into last place is The Flash. The show left off after dropping the tidbit of who was looming under Zoom’s mask, a man with a freaky resemblance to one Jay Garrick. Who would’ve thought that The Flash of Earth-2 would also turn out to be its tormentor, Zoom? Barry clearly didn’t.

The Pain: The sophomore slump in television is a proven fact for most television shows and The Flash hasn’t been able to escape that fate, no matter how fast Barry runs. The majority of the season has underwhelmed and this episode continues that downward slump. The urgency, the mystery, the action, hell, even the fun, of season 1 just isn’t there this season. The addition of all the new characters, the confusing storylines of some of its major players (Caitlin, I’m looking at you), and even the threat of Zoom have not hit the mark. The reveal of who was beneath Zoom’s mask should have made more of an impression than it did, but it didn’t. Yes, the entirety of Team Flash was shocked and betrayed to learn that it was Jay beneath Zoom’s mask and that discovery should have driven the episode but it didn’t. The connection between how Eliza Harmon (Trajectory) contracted her powers and the connection to Jay’s use of Velocity 9 and his alter ego as Zoom felt more like a mere fluke rather than by design. Maybe that’s what the writers were trying to do but it failed, there was no shock factor to the discovery. Here’s to hoping that the rest of the season doesn’t continue to underwhelm. (Probably going to take a good couple dozens buckets of hope though.) 

The Pleasure: The introduction of Trajectory as the villain de jour gave Barry the kick he needed to push forward, to go faster, that he hadn’t been able to accomplish just by himself and the team. Barry needed an opponent. He needed that drive that only competition can give you to accomplish his target goal of getting faster. He did that. He got faster. Trajectory also imparted the lesson that Barry can’t always save everyone, the individual themselves must want to be saved as well. The Jekyll/Hyde personality of Eliza Harmon/Trajectory due to the use of Velocity 9 may lend itself to how Jay became the Zoom on Earth-2. It may also lend to how Barry & Co. will ultimately stop Zoom, possibly by synthesizing a counteragent to Velocity 9 that slows down a Speedster rather than speeding them up. Trajectory brought a lot to the episode, but, more importantly, she drove the storyline of the season farther down the road. Hopefully, the forward trajectory continues as we become closer to the season finale.

Lingering Questions: Is Jay really the one under Zoom’s mask or could it possibly be a doppelgänger? A doppelgänger named Hunter Zolomon? What kind of blood types do they have on Earth-2? How is Team Flash going to reopen the portal to Earth-2? Will they actually be the ones to reopen the portal? Do you think that Iris is going to give her editor an actual chance, even though she was discussing the possibility of a marriage to Barry earlier in the episode? How did Jessie buy a ticket to Opal City and how does she plan on surviving all on her own in an unfamiliar world with no background identity and money?

Ratings: 2/5

Round 2

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We bid adieu to two amazing characters on Agents of SHIELD this week. It was a goodbye that we all knew was coming but the impact of losing Bobbi Morse and Lance Hunter didn’t truly hit home until the final emotional moments of the episode. Raise your shorts to AoS as it falls into third place this week.

The Pain: No one knew the impact that Bobbi Morse, aka. Mockingbird, and Lance Hunter would have as they entered the scene is the premier episode of season two. But they certainly have made one in the one and a half season they’ve been on AoS. Both characters brought a new energy, new personalities, a new set of skills, and a new dynamic to the team after the devastating events of season one. They expanded the story that AoS was telling far beyond what the original team could do. We saw all the connections that these two characters made with the original team members. We saw new friendships develop, saw new confidantes made, and saw these two rekindle their romantic relationships. The two of them drew us in, made us cheer, made us laugh, made us cry, and gave us hope that dysfunctional relationships between spies can work out if both are willing to try. I, for one, am truly sad to see these two depart SHIELD.

The Pleasure: One of the things I love about AoS is that even in an ensemble show like it is, it is not afraid to let individual characters shine. The credit for this absolutely goes to the actors and the writers of AoS who have created characters that we want to watch, that we care about, and that we want to see expanded upon even more. The Simmons’s episode earlier this season was an absolute triumph of television and one that rarely happens. The same thing happened this week. We got to see Bobbi and Hunter elevated to a level we haven’t seen before, not to Simmons’s level, but still elevated. We got to delve deeper into their psyche, their desires, and their relationship. The episode granted us the opportunity to understand why Bobbi and Hunter allowed themselves to be disavowed. Of course, it wasn’t an easy decision to make, it wasn’t a decision they were expecting, and one that their teammates definitely weren’t. But like the true individuals they are they rolled with it, they chose each other and a future together, and that’s pretty beautiful outcome from a devastating blow like the one they suffered. I have all my fingers crossed that their spinoff Marvels Most Wanted gets green lit.

 Lingering Questions: Who didn’t cry during the “Spies Goodbye”? Seriously, blame it on allergies if you have to! What happens to the team now that it’s lost two of its main members? Will we see glimpses of Bobbi and Hunter in future episodes? Who thought the actions scenes, especially the slow motion one between Bobbi, Daisy Skye, and the Shadow Assassin, were fantastic? How many more humans do you think Zombie Ward devoured this episode? Malick has a daughter who knows all about his agenda and Zombie Ward?

Ratings: 3.5/5

 

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Supergirl flies into second place this week. Kara reveals some truths and faces off the US government who’s bent on separating her adoptive family, the one in the present and the one in the past.

The Pain: I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again and again, Kara and Alex’s relationship is the most important relationship on Supergirl. Unfortunately, it looks like the two of them will be separated for a while as Alex becomes a fugitive and goes on the run with Hank in search of their father. Boo! We had the opportunity to delve even deeper into the relationship and the psyche of the Danvers sisters this episode thanks to all the flashbacks. We’ve always known that these two love each and care about each other, but like any relationship between sisters, there will always be some issues lingering in the background. Both sisters have faced an uphill battle to get to where they are today and that has factored into their relationship. The goodbye between the two of them showcased the core of their relationship, the fact that both of them will always be there for one another, always looking out for one another. Let’s hope their reunion won’t be fraught with unhappy tears.

The Pleasure: Flashbacks done right! Supergirl knocked it out of the park with its flashbacks this episode. They didn’t hamper or slow down the episode but added to the greater story it was trying to tell. (Arrow needs to take some pointers.) The most exciting of all the flashbacks would are the ones of J’onn J’onzz and how he became Hank Henshaw. The mystery and reason as to why J’onn J’onzz became Hank Henshaw has been on the tip of my mind since it was revealed that Hank was a Martian and this episode finally gave it to us. J’onn saved Jeremiah Danvers life and the bond that formed between the two of them in the short amount of time gave each other a glimpse of the best of not only themselves but humanity. Jeremiah’s blood debt to J’onn was repaid when he saved J’onn from certain death from the actual Hank Henshaw. J’onn’s continued impersonation has been in large part to continuing to care and protect the daughters that Jeremiah left behind when he saved his life. J’onn’s relationship with Alex and Kara is definitely one of the foundational cores of Supergirl. Lucy Lane definitely has got some boots to fill as she steps into fill the role of Kara’s DEO counterpart in the coming episodes as Alex and Hank continue their run from the law.

Lingering Questions: How do you think Lucy is going to handle being the new head of the DEO? How long do you think Alex and Hank will be on the run for? How is Jeremiah Danvers still alive? And what kind of condition will he be in once Alex and Hank find him? How did Siobhan get her powers? Did she know of them prior to her tumble of the rooftop or is this a surprise?

Ratings: 3.5/5

Round 3 

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Arrow comes in at top spot this week after its return from its mini-hiatus squarely on the backs of Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak. This episode exemplified why these two characters are individually two of the best characters on any of the comic book based television shows currently on the air. Not because they are perfect because they aren’t, but because they are so vividly and deeply human. All the applause goes to Stephen Amell and Emily Bett Rickards for bringing these characters to life.

The Pain: Oliver’s inability to say apologize. The basis of Arrow is the journey of how Oliver Queen becomes the hero known as the Green Arrow. We’ve seen over the past four seasons how Oliver has changed, how he went from a cold-blooded killer bent on righting his father’s wrongs to trying to save his city from anyone who wishes to harm it. The journey hasn’t been an easy one, there have definitely been some missteps along the way, and he’s definitely not a fully realized hero, yet. As much as Oliver has cultivated and integrated himself into a team, he is still very much a lone wolf, carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, protecting himself from the outside world.

Oliver spent fives years essentially alone, in constant danger, constantly fighting for his survival, constantly looking for the next threat, the next target, always looking, always protecting himself. That kind of experience changes a person, it changed Oliver. And undoing those types the scars that those experiences left upon his body, his mind, his soul aren’t easy. It’s a Herculean task, but a task I believe he is more than capable of taking on. He just has to be willing to do try. The whole BMD (baby mama drama) storyline was horribly contrived one but it did highlight one of the flaws the Oliver still has yet to surpass, and that is his inability to let others in, to rely on them, to include them in his decision making, in all his life. I honestly thought that he had surpassed it, considering the openness, the effervescence that we saw in him in the beginning of season 4 in his relationship with Felicity. Boy, was I wrong.

Oliver Queen needs Felicity Smoak. Oliver Queen loves Felicity Smoak, with every ounce of his being. Those are two things I know with absolute certainty. But Oliver’s love doesn’t trump the pain, the betrayal, the damage that he caused when he lied to Felicity about his son and his exclusion of her when he made the decision to send away his son. As Ursula Le Guin wrote in The Left Hand of Darkness, “A profound love between two people involves, after all, the power and chance of doing profound hurt.” That quote exemplifies what is happening between Oliver and Felicity at the moment, their love is profound and precious but fractured because of the choices that Oliver made. In order for the fracture to heal Oliver is going to need to overcome his default of isolating himself from others. He needs to reach out more, be more inclusive, stop shouldering all the weight and let his family, let Felicity when he needs helps. That’s really the only way that Oliver is going to be able to overcome this flaw and move forward on his journey. Oliver has to lay himself bare, let someone in, open up himself, truly open up himself, to the world and to Felicity. Only then can he start repairing his relationship with Felicity. He can start by apologizing to Felicity for his actions, though. Just a suggestion.

The Pleasure: Felicity Smoak continues one of the best parts of Arrow. I love absolutely everything about her (*insert all the things Oliver said in his vows about why he loves her*) but the thing I love most is her strength. And it was on full display in this week’s episode. Felicity Smoak is the strongest person on Arrow. And I will fight anyone who says otherwise. If you want to bash Felicity Smoak on her decision to walk away from Oliver, you can stop reading now and leave. Why is Felicity Smoak the strongest person on Arrow? Because she loves, she cares with her whole heart, she throws 100% of herself into what she does but she doesn’t let that get in the way of what is most important at the end of the day and that’s herself. That is not selfish, it’s self-love. I’ve always lived by the statement that in order to love someone else, be in a fully committed relationship with someone else, you have to love yourself first. Felicity has learnt to do that over the course of her life. She has learnt to love herself, respect herself, fight for her needs and desires, stand up for her voice and move forward with her life. That takes strength, strength that Felicity Smoak has in spades.

Felicity was in suffering from an insurmountable amount of pain this episode. You have to look closely to see it but it’s definitely there and it’s magnetic, powerful and raw. We saw as Felicity tried to compartmentalize that pain at the beginning of the episode when she threw in physics when it came to packing and moving out of the loft. Her pain was there, hidden, subtle, but present. As the episode went on her pain crested. Putting on that wedding dress, walking into the wedding venue, seeing Oliver in a tux, hearing him recite his vows, must have felt likes knife after knife into her aching heart. All of her pain came to a climax at the end of the episode with Oliver and her in the lair as she returned her former engagement ring and left the team. Not for good of course, because I don’t think Felicity actually could (note the work she did while on vacation with Oliver) but for the time being. Felicity told Oliver she loves, with every part of her, and I don’t doubt that at all, but the pain of seeing him, every day, and not being with him after being with him, was just too painful to take. That is completely understandable and acceptable.

Oliver lied. Yes, he’s lied to Felicity before. He’s isolated himself from Felicity before and yes, Felicity forgave him, but that was before. Before they became a couple, before they traveled the world together, before they moved into a house together and cooked omelettes together, before they decided to share a future together, before he put a ring on her finger and asked her to spend the rest of their lives together. Felicity needs a partner in Oliver, in all aspects of her life. He can’t just be her partner and backup while fighting crime, he also has to be her partner and backup in their personal lives and Oliver didn’t do that. He lied, he excluded her, and Felicity has had first-hand experience of the damage that can cause a relationship and a person.

Felicity lost her father when he walked away from her, her mother and their family. That abandonment, the pain and the doubts that caused has stuck with Felicity. Felicity lost Cooper when he faked his death and left her all alone once more. Felicity has lost, she has felt the pain of being abandoned, being left behind, and she won’t go down the same path with Oliver no matter how much he loves her and how much she loves him. Because if Felicity truly lost Oliver, if Oliver completely shut himself off from her, the pain would break her into hundreds and thousands of pieces because she trusted him, completely, with all the parts of her heart and soul. Felicity took the pre-emptive step of leaving Oliver before he left her because if previous experience has taught her anything Oliver will leave, will shut her out and she won’t stand for it. That takes an incredible amount of strength to walk away from. It’s why Felicity is one of the strongest, if not the strongest individuals on Arrow.

Will Oliver and Felicity get back together? Yes. When? I’m not sure. What I am sure of is that Oliver is going to have to overcome his default of isolating himself from the world. He’s going to need to fight and fight like hell. Through that fighting he will show Felicity that he has changed, that he can be her partner in all aspects of their life together, that he won’t leave her, won’t lie to her, won’t hurt her again, and that’s when they’ll get back together. Both of them are going to need to take a chance, one more chance and put their faith in one another, put faith in their love for one another before they can continue forward.

Lingering Questions: Who knew Laurel still had a day job as a lawyer and assistant DA? I didn’t. Can the target that Laurel and Quentin just painted on themselves get any bigger? Who is Laurel going to put on the stand next? What was on the flash drive that Felicity took with her? Why did Darhk hide his ring? Is it imbued with magical powers? Is he just sentimental of because it’s his wedding ring? Where do you think Oliver and Felicity are going to have makeup sex? The lair? The backseat of the Porsche? Her desk at Palmer Tech? The loft? Place your bets.

Ratings: 4/5

Thank you for reading this week’s Superhero Showdown. Join me next week as I spout more my thoughts about the comic book shows I’m currently watching on television. 😉

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