By Adam Basciano
Welcome to the new weekly format of my review column. Each week at RTF Review: Tales from the DC MulTVerse, I’ll share my thoughts on the various live action DC TV series featuring our favorite superheroes. Two shows, just returned for a new season, so lets get things started:
After an unexpected guest from the future appears at their home, Barry and Iris must figure out how to get her back to the future without disrupting the timeline. (The CW)
In the first of two, Tales from the DC MulTVerse, the Arrowverse kicks off with season 5 of The Flash, which picks up immediately from the Season 4 finale. While I disliked most of Season four immensely, the finale where Barry and Iris’ daughter from the future, anonymously helps The Flash save the world, then shows up at his doorstep, left me with excitement for the new season. That excitement was rewarded by this premiere episode. While The Flash, Iris and most of their team are familiar with time travel, the arrival of their daughter from the future, provides a level of awe and bewilderment, I haven’t seen from these characters in a few seasons. Cisco’s reaction was to get drunk on champagne. Carlos Valdez is always entertaining, but drunk Cisco might be my favourite. Nora herself, is almost a dead ringer looks wise for her mom, but has Barry’s nerdiness and quirks.
I’m not sure of this, but from the outset, Nora seems to have a similar intellect to Cisco. Jessica Parker Kennedy plays Nora as jubilant, and someone who adores her father. You could call her a fangirl of The Flash. She tells the group that, she can’t gather enough speed to get to her own time, and while they try to figure a way to send her home, Iris wants to bond with her future daughter, while Barry is somewhat hesitant and distant, for fear off altering the timeline. Given the nature of maternal instinct, and Barry’s past experiences, the reactions of both our leads are 100% believable. There is an awkward tension coming from Nora, in regards to her mother. While the source of it wasn’t fully revealed, I can sympathize with Nora. Every time Iris was on screen last season, I felt awkward and tense. That’s because I found the character was written poorly and was cringe worthy last year. Despite Barry not wanting to know of things from the future, curiosity gets the best of him. Nora tells him that he disappeared in the Crisis, and has been missing for 25 years in her time line. This was revealed back in Season 1, and it appears that this plot point, may come into focus this year.
Nora reveals that she never spent any time with her father in the future, and that she is not stuck in the present, she’s using a negative tachyon device, which limits her from travelling to her own timeline. Nora tells Barry, that everything she learned about him, came via The Flash Museum. If that nod to comics lore wasn’t enough, Nora gives Barry a Flash ring, which houses a brand new costume to replace his old one,which is tattered and ruined. Actually seeing the costume, eject frim the ring and Barry run into it, was pretty cool. Something I never thought I’d see in live action.
Knowing that his daughter never got to spend time with him in the future, it’s understandable that Barry has a change of heart and agrees to allow her to stay in the present for awhile. While, the villain Gridlock is a metahuman of the week type of deal, him trying to crash a plane into the heart of Central City, necessitates, The Flash, Kid Flash and Nora, aka XS, to team up, and use their speed to phase the plane through buildings, causing no damage and a safe landing. Problem being, XS has not learned how to do this. In a tense action packed moment, Barry guides his daughter through, the process, reciting advice,Harrison Wells gave to him, his first day as The Flash. This scene came complete with season 1 voice over and flashbacks. The scenes between Barry and Nora in the final third of the episode were so emotionally charged. Grant Gustin and Jessica Parker Kennedy were standout performers. The visual effects for the plane rescue were pretty strong as well. The Season 5 premiere, all it’s call backs not withstanding, felt more like Season 1, when I fell in love with this show. This step backwards to a season gone by, is a good thing for me and has this new Season of The Flash, racing to a great start!
After the Pierces survive Tobias’s attack, the Garfield board considers a motion to shut down the school out of concern for the students’ safety. (The CW)
Tales from the DC MulTVerse, continue with Black Lightning, which for me, was the most consistent “Arrowverse” show, in terms of quality last season. That quality continues, with the first episode of year two. I loved the plot point of the school board considering shutting down the school, given the myriad of superpowered violent events that occurred their last season. I could see such a reaction happening in the real world. Real world consequences were a strength of the show, and I’m glad they are continuing that, rather than sweeping things under the rug, or everything ending “happily ever after.” Being Black Lightning on a more fulltime basis, hasn’t stopped Jefferson from looking out for his students. He’s willing to sacrifice his job as principal, if the board would keep the school open. It also highlights Jefferson’s struggle and the cost of keeping a secret identity.
With most of the heroes in the Arrowverse having a Team of people around, who know their secret, I feel the need, importance and hardship of having and maintaining a secret identity, is somewhat lost on these shows. Save for Arrow of course. Speaking of secret identities, Detective Inspector Henderson, has put the facts together, to deduce that Jefferson is Black Lightning. Given all the events that happened at Jefferson’s school and the fact that, Black Lightning went out of his way to protect Jefferson’s kids, the clues were certainly there. It will be interesting to see a superhero work together with a member of law enforcement, who actually knows his identity. We haven’t seen that dynamic play out much in superhero fare. Black Lightning will be treading fairly new ground in that regard.
The show is once again tackling the headlines, by having the now known existence of “Green Light” babies, be the catalysts, of police brutality and shootings. We see cops tackling, subduing, and eventually shooting dead, a non threatening person with metahuman abilities, by way of “Green Light.” Take away the metahuman aspect, and this is a story that is constantly dominating our news stream. The character of Lynn was largely opposed to Black Lightning and Thunder’s escapades in season one. This season, she is taking a much larger, proactive role. As a Doctor, she sets out to help the “Green Light” test subjects still in stasis, being held at an ASA facility. She even turns to Gambi to pull some strings, to get a high ranking agent off her back. This is a tactic she would have argued with Jefferson about last season! The character has done a complete turn around from last season, and I for one am glad she realized she can be every bit a force for change, as Black Lightning and Thunder, even without the costume or abilities.
Jefferson’s daughter Jennifer’s powers started manifesting late last season, so season two’s premiere finds them evolving. An added wrinkle this season, is that she can engulf herself in what looks like a force field of electric energy. Her powers are uncontrolled though, and in the midst of a heated argument with her mother, she accidentally zaps her mother slightly burning her. This will no doubt lead to her father training her on how to control and harness her abilities. Though, I hope they don’t rush her into superhero status, like Arrow did with most of its characters who joined Team Arrow. The only real action set piece involved undercover vice principal turned ASA Agent Kara, battling Tobias Whale’s henchwoman Syonide. This fight was well choreographed and featured surprise weaponry. Given her eventual confrontation with Tobias Whale at episodes end, I doubt we’ve seen the last of this badass version of the character. Black Lightning picked up right where it left off and continues to be entertain, with thunderous sincerity and thought provoking relevance.
This wraps up the first of my new RTF Review: Tales from the DC MulTVerse column. I hope you like the new format and most importantly, enjoyed the episodes themselves. Next weeks installment of RTF Review: Tales from the DC MulTVerse, will include, Arrow, Supergirl and maybe even a few Titans!