Batwoman s01e07 – Tell Me the Truth

Oh, good, just what “Batwoman” needs, a whole episode dedicated to the acting stylings of Meagan Tandy.

Sadly, I’m being facetious.

This episode gets into Tandy’s knowledge of Batwoman’s identity and her not entirely forthcoming marriage to Greyston Holt (she neglected to every tell him she had a three year romantic relationship with a woman). As a sniper takes out the creators of a gun able to kill Batman (or Batwoman), Ruby Rose tries to deal with the Tandy knowing her secret identity thing while Tandy finally decides to tell Holt what’s up.

But there’s still one more secret from Tandy, whose relationship with Dougray Scott is a little more complicated than previously revealed. In fact, when away on a mission Scott leaves a message for his “kid,” you can’t believe he’s talking so warmly or openly to Rose. Though maybe it’s Nicole Kang. Even though Kang and Scott haven’t had many (any?) scenes together, she’s broken up about the impending family dissolution. Scott’s divorcing Kang’s mom, Elizabeth Anweis, because Anweis lied to him about his daughter being dead so he’d stop looking and marry her, something Rose and King never discuss in the episode because addressing big family problems isn’t “Batwoman”’s thing.

The sniper stuff gets resolved too quick—without any solid Batwoman action scenes either—but guest star Christina Wolfe brings some life to it as Alfred the butler’s secret agent daughter. She’s got a history with both Camrus Johnson (they’re pals) and Rose (back when Rose got drummed out of military school for coming out of the closet, Batman sent Wolfe to keep tabs on Rose; Wolfe ended up seducing her, then telling her she was a babysitter).

Rose’s getting better, but every time she’s got a scene with Tandy it throws the progress back. But at least the end of the episode implies they’ve got an idea of where to take Rose without that tedious subplot. Unless it’s yet another two episode arc for her, like the last girlfriend.

Rachel Skarsten has a few scenes and she’s good as always. Sam Littlefield shows up in at least one of them. He’s bad as always.

Seven episodes in and “Batwoman” still feels way too unsure.

Batwoman s01e06 – I’ll Be Judge, I’ll Be Jury

“Batwoman” has a Dougray Scott problem. The show keeps giving him material he can’t do or does poorly (versus Ruby Rose, who sometimes doesn’t even try when the material isn’t working with her). It’s getting particularly annoying as Rose is getting better and Scott’s going to screw up her character development.

Some of Rose’s improvement has to do with more Batwoman screen time. Rose’s better at Batwoman than Kate Kane because Kate Kane is still badly written. She just looks at evidence at her dad’s, goes off to cowl-up, bickers a little with Camrus Johnson who ends up with the incredibly odd optics of being the Black man defending white police and prosecutors who get busted falsifying evidence to falsely convict other Black men. She’s got no relationship with anyone besides Scott this episode, which doesn’t go well because Scott’s profoundly not good. He tries really hard and it’s such a fail. Rose doesn’t show any personality until she’s in the cowl, which is great because she’s got to show personality while costumed up, it’s more important to the show’s success given it’s a flipping superhero show. But making it about a mercenary finding his heart and then casting Scott in that role… big fail.

Other big fail this episode? Saddling Nicole Kang once again with Meagan Tandy; Tandy’s so bad she drags Kang down this episode. It’s a real bummer. Kang’s the highlight of “Batwoman,” Tandy’s one of its thorns. Though the script doesn’t help Tandy any. She’s just playing the thin catty villain part as written.

As for series villain Rachel Skarsten… she’s great. Unfortunately her newly revealed sidekick, Sam Littlefield, is not great. In fact, he’s fairly bad. It’s not an easy part, I get it; son of child-murdering and child-kidnapping evil plastic surgeon who revolts to save “sister” Skarsten—not easy stuff. But Skarsten manages to do it well and Littlefield doesn’t. “Batwoman”’s got a lot of casting issues. Yes, filming in Chicago means it looks like Dark Knight and not like Vancouver, but in Vancouver maybe you could’ve afforded better actors.

Or at least actors who patently cannot do the roles they’re in.

Supergirl s05e06 – Confidence Women

Okay, so Steven Bauer is Julie Gonzalo’s dad, who’s been mentioned since the first episode of the season but never seen. It doesn’t appear to be a great part for Bauer but whatever, he’s fine. Though he does act to launder a bit of Gonzalo’s performance. He’s able to make it at least seem legit for a scene. Almost. Because it’s not a good performance—Gonzalo’s—in fact, it’s really, really bad. Because she’s not just the evil new boss at CatCo, she’s also a literal super-assassin who works for a mega-secret evil society, Leviathan (which I thought was from a Grant Morrison Batman but I don’t care enough to look). And she was a bad best friend to Lena (Katie McGrath), even though she and Lena had totally awesome early 2000s adventures together when they went drinking underage and bonded over Titanic. Really. Lots of Titanic remarks. Including one about how Lex Luthor responded to it.

Though, technically, most of Gonzalo and McGrath’s conversations do pass Bechdel, which is more a curiosity than anything else. Because what they’re talking about is dumb. They have this Hardy Girls adventure where they go to South America—because they’re rich—in search of magical treasure. They find it but Gonzalo takes it instead of giving it to McGrath, who wants to use it to save the world from her evil brother. The show’s done in flashbacks set in different eras, which is a terrible idea because Gonzalo is godawful in all the eras and McGrath can’t do anything with her abbreviated flashbacks.

There’s a little in the present day at the end, but really it’s just Lena turning into a porto-supervillain. She’s just going to need a push.

It’s another Arrowverse show where the main cast has very little to do… possibly because they’re shooting something else (Jon Cryer cameos as Lex for a flashback and not for another one of them and he’s in the Crisis). But maybe McGrath isn’t, which seems like a major slight as she’s the one getting all the lousy material. Except the flashback to when she chats with Melissa Benoist and all of a sudden you remember enjoying the characters interact. Seasons ago.

Gonzalo’s indicative of a larger problem with the show and the main female supporting players it introduces. Or the show’s casting. Or both. She drains positive energy from the show, which is runny super-low already.

The Flash s06e05 – Kiss Kiss Breach Breach

How is this show so boring… so much happens yet so much of it

It’s a very strange Cisco episode. Barry and Iris go on vacation before the Crisis crossover (possibly to film the Crisis crossover) while Cisco holds down the front. Now, I can’t remember the last time Carlos Valdes was charming but I think it was two seasons ago. It’ll happen every once in a while now and you can tell it’s not intentional. Somehow Valdes’s original energy gets through, despite finally being a superhero and having a girlfriend. Only now he’s not a superhero and he’s got a different girlfriend (Victoria Park) and he’s unsure of himself. There’s an absurdly bad subplot where Valdes and Park are supposed to be adorable together and they really aren’t. They’re annoying together.

Because even though they get the big story, involving guest star Danny Trejo and a couple big surprises, the most interesting stuff in the episode is the very small subplots with the other cast members. Because they’re also filming Crisis? Who knows. But Danielle Panabaker having another super-quick showdown with season big bad and Venom wannabe Sendhil Ramamurthy is not great drama. Tom Cavanagh and Jesse L. Martin being trapped in a collapsed subway tunnel and running out of air could be great drama—a good show would’ve turned it into a full episode—but the show manages to kill it by giving Martin this monologue about faith. Only his faith turns out to be in the upcoming Crisis meaning he can’t die now. He’s got to be around for the crossover. Only really schmaltzy and not meta at all. It’s a bummer.

Valdes eventually gets better and it’s not the worst episode by the finish—the show leverages Hartley Sawyer being a success after what seemed like a questionable start—but if all Valdes’s storylines going forward are going to involve him getting into situations where his stupid powers would save his life or mean he could save others… maybe he shouldn’t have gotten rid of them.

I wish I could remember when this show worked on a regular basis. I wish I could remember back to season two, to when it actually disappointed when it didn’t deliver on its potential. Now it just doesn’t even try to generate potential. It’s distressing how poorly the show utilizes its cast these days.

Also there are no big action set pieces here. Cheap ones only. Maybe the money’s going toward Crisis. Hopefully. This whole season hinges on the big crossover to breath life back into it. Not a great place to be. If a Jesse L. Martin monologue can fail, nothing’s safe anymore.

And Martin’s monologue failed hard.

Supergirl s05e05 – Dangerous Liaisons

This episode could be a lot worse. It does have some significant lows—like when Azie Tesfai has to pretend to cry, which she’s absurdly bad at doing. Like, it’s uncomfortable. Especially when you realize they went with the best take. Got to be able to cry on “Supergirl,” it’s one of the show’s many go to things.

And Phil LaMarr is terrible as the evil Martian. Him being onscreen does nothing to improve his performance. Lena (Katie McGrath) has him prisoner and is doing experiments on him so she can rid the world of evil thoughts. She’s like a good guy Lex Luthor, driven mad not by Supergirl burning all her hair off but by not telling McGrath her secret identity, partially because McGrath’s from a supervillain family and does crazy stuff.

Like shooting a laser into the Antarctic to cause a global flood—when Martian David Harewood compares it to Noah’s flood is when, basically, I gave on Harewood. He’d been really weird all episode and it certainly seems like having a completely crappy story line has finally felled him. Bummer. Anyway, global flood, good thing there are superheroes like Supergirl, Harewood, and Dreamer. And Chyler Leigh. Can’t forget Chyler Leigh in her super-suit, which she actually gets to use as she saves people on the waterfront, which Tesfai sees, which triggers PTSD and a truly bad crying scene.

But when you get past all the bad stuff, it’s a fairly tightly told thriller. Mostly out of the cape Melissa Benoist and season love interest-to-be Staz Nair are trying to figure out what terrible thing female Mark Zuckerberg Julie Gonzalo is trying to do and it seems like it’s going to be apocalyptic. Once it’s clear it’s not a two-parter and there’s actual stakes… “Supergirl” delivers.

Yes, the villain looks like a bad Robocop cosplayer with some stolen Doc Ock arms but the tension’s still there.

Maybe it’s director Alysse Leite-Rogers, maybe it’s the script. But it’s an engaging hour-long show, which tolerable weak points.

Oh.

And I really, really, really miss Mon-El. Nair’s earnest but quite wanting.

Batwoman s01e05 – Mine Is a Long and a Sad Tale

This episode has no awesome Batwoman action. The only Batwoman action scene is not very good, in fact. It’s all that stealthy Batman Begins type action as Batwoman breaks into estranged sister and supervillain Alice’s base and takes her prisoner, presumably leaving all the thugs unconscious… even though they then wake up and start attacking the dad.

While Ruby Rose doesn’t emote a lot, not even when she finds out she’s been duped or made a terrible decision or really not thought out her plans, which should be a bad thing but somehow isn’t. Like the aloof quality makes all Rose is processing—finding out long dead sister is alive and supervillain, becoming Batwoman, dating life, whatever—seem a lot more reasonable. Because the way the show is handling Rose and Rachel Skarsten (as the supervillain sister) is actually fairly impressive. It helps Skarsten’s good, but the plotting of the reveals and the character development is solid stuff. The show doesn’t shy away from the big twist, instead going further than just embracing it and making it the whole show. “Batwoman” is about Rose and Skarsten. The Bat-branding is adornment.

Also good this episode is step-sister Nicole Kang freaking out after she finds out her mom, shady defense contractor Elizabeth Anweis, did something really shady and hurtful. Kang ends up hanging out with Camrus Johnson (while looking for Rose) for much of the episode, annoying him in the most amusing ways. Kang’s the show’s best actor and Johnson’s good at the humor so it’s really fun to see them together. Especially since the other B plot is Meagan Tandy and Dougray Scott trying to find Rose and Skarsten.

Saying Tandy and Scott are utterly charmless is about the most complimentary observation one could make based on this episode. Mostly because they’re so terribly miscast.

But it’s a surprisingly solid episode. Like, impressively so. It proves it doesn’t need good Batwoman action scenes to succeed, not when it knows how to leverage Skarsten and Kang.

Supergirl s05e04 – In Plain Sight

It took me a while to like Mehcad Brooks’s “Don’t Call Me Jimmy” Olsen. The character’s fairly flat, the show never really let Brooks do much either. He’d always get in the orbit of a controversial topic and then rush through a couple episodes and move on. Let’s not forget the show didn’t let he and Kara (Melissa Benoist) date because apparently the Black guy and Supergirl was okay on CBS but not on CW? Anyway, he’s been on the show since episode one. He peaked a long time ago and has been barely scraping by on likability; Guardian has always been terrible. At least with Jeremy Jordan it was fun. Since… not so much. Even when there was a chance to do really something with a Black superhero… “Supergirl” choked. Oddly so.

And then there was Brooks and Katie McGrath’s whole romance last season, which doesn’t even amount to a least scene for the pair this episode. Oh, right. Sorry. Spoiler. Mehcad Brooks is out.

The episode makes it perfectly clear how little he’s needed in National City too. It forgets him at the end for a while and you’re wondering more about almost anything else. Not the villain, J’onn’s evil Martian brother, but anything besides him. Even though he’s got a slightly unpredicted arc. Phil LaMarr’s voice performance seems better this time out (or at least less bad).

Then there’s also a whole thing with Chyler Leigh getting possessed and telling J’onn (David Harewood) he’s a bad friend and Harewood crying about it. This show has failed Harewood time and again and apparently the hole can get a little deeper. It’s a nonsense subplot, but at least it facilities Jesse Rath and McGrath getting some scenes together because McGrath’s hilarious in them. And, yet again, the show perfectly utilizes McGrath then promises to screw it up with her “are they evil on purpose” machinations.

But the Rath and McGrath scenes are good.

And “Supergirl”’s no worse than… it’s been many times before. The show survives on good sincerity scenes in bad episodes and effective guest stars more than anything else.

Though Benoist’s new love interest Staz Nair is terrible.

Supergirl s05e03 – Blurred Lines

Carl Lumbly shows up in this episode and you almost remember when you liked the stuff with J’onn (David Harewood). Barely. Lumbly’s voice brings back that warm feeling, so long missing on the show. And he’s got to be there because this episode’s all about Harewood finding out why he doesn’t remember his brother (Phil LaMarr doesn’t get a credit this episode, as his character—named Malefic, in the best proper noun usage since Geonosis, hops from person to person via mental telepathy or it’s just his transforming powers… doesn’t matter). Again, it’s unbelievable the Martian evil brother thing is a multi-arc—possibly full season—villain thread because the Martian CGI is so terrible. At one point, they just do the flashbacks with human children, explaining it’s because Nicole Maines (who’s helping Harewood with his memories while not breaking annoying Jesse Rath’s heart) is seeing things through a human perspective, which makes little sense since Maines is… an alien.

But whatever. Her being an alien was always a little weird anyway. Why not just forget it whenever it helps the budget.

Meanwhile Sean Astin shows up as the evil brother’s latest persona, except Astin’s an old friend of Azie Tesfai’s, which soon puts her in danger and ends with her and James (Mehcad Brooks—who’s got nothing to do on this show anymore, especially not since he quit his job) in exile. It’s like the whole episode is treading water until they can shoe out the Olsen siblings.

Rath’s really annoying. It’s not cute. He’s really annoying.

The show also figures out a way to bring back Andrea (Miss Teschmacher) Brooks, making her Katie McGrath’s sounding board again, which isn’t great because Brooks is more wooden than the CGI super-Alexa McGrath talked at the previous episodes.

Meanwhile Melissa Benoist is overworked at the newspaper, but every task she has to complete seems to be something she could do at super-speed but doesn’t. Why doesn’t she ever use her superpowers to get her work done? Has it ever been addressed? The idea Benoist could be overwhelmed with a backlog of civilian work is silly.

The show’s also doing questionably effective—ergo not—end song montage sequences now. If you can’t do a song montage, don’t. Don’t pretend you can sell it with some song you found out you could use for cheap (or exposure). It’s all very unsteady.

Supergirl s05e02 – Stranger Beside Me

This episode ought to be called “The One With All the Whining.” First, there’s still Lena (Katie McGrath) whining—entirely to her super-Echo—about how Kara never told her the Supergirl thing. McGrath’s new plan is to pretend everything’s cool and exploit Supergirl’s friendship. Of course the scenes with Melissa Benoist being earnest and caring about Lena and McGrath pretending the feeling is mutual are much better than the ones where McGrath’s whining and plotting. Musing about plotting. She doesn’t even get to really plot; plotting wouldn’t help, as the show seems to either not comprehend McGrath’s inherent likability as a Supergirl/Kara ally or just not want to do it for bad character development. Bad character development in two ways—it’s bad, and also McGrath is on a villain arc now.

But this episode also amps up the whining with Alex (Chyler Leigh) and her new girlfriend, Azie Tesfai. Tesfai’s character’s name is Kelly but basically she’s just Alex’s girlfriend and James’s sister. She’s got nothing else going for her character development-wise, though I suppose she could provide worse support when she’s using her lab’s future science to try to figure out why J’onn can’t remember his brother. See, Leigh is freaking out because she and Tesfai don’t know each other very well and Leigh made blueberry pancakes and Tesfai is allergic. If it were a show about obsessing over every item in your day, it might be all right… but it’s “Supergirl.” It’s supposed to be about something else… ostensibly super.

Tesfai and David Harewood (whose J’onn is on an even shakier character arc than last season, which is saying something) are fine together, but it’s a problematic subplot. Maybe because the Martian brother thing is so dumb. Like, is he really going to be the season villain? Because he’s a terrible villain. And the Martian CGI is way too iffy for 2019.

Harewood gives “Supergirl” some of its respectability cachet and the show rewards him with the worst plot lines.

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