RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse #5
By: Adam Basciano
This weeks installment of RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse will be a little shorter, due to the fact that The Flash & Black Lightning have taken a week off. However, we do have the trifecta of TITANS, Arrow and Supergirl to discuss:
“Dick and Kory try to track down Rachel while Gar takes her to the house of the Doom Patrol for safety.” (DC Universe)
This episode gives us much needed additional screen time with Garfield Logan, peels back another layer to Rachel’s ability and introduce the Doom Patrol, to viewers and the universe. We start off with a glimpse of Gar’s origin. It’s a flashback to two years prior and we see him in a makeshift tent area, where dead bodies are being bagged tagged and cleared out. Gar is left behind, still alive. He calls out for help, when a man in a hazmat suit arrives. He tells Gar he can save him, before injecting him with a green serum. We later learn, that Gar was bitten by a rare species of monkey and thus, was granted the ability, to change into animal form. He is saved by the leader of the Doom Patrol, known as The Chief and is taken in by him and the rest of the group. Some particulars of the events have been changed, for the show from the comics, such as who gave him the needle, who from the Doom Patrol, “adopted him”, but the core elements I’ve mentioned here, are the things that remain in tact. In present day, when Gar brings Rachel back to Caulder Mansion, home of the Doom Patrol, his basement area is retrofitted with classic arcade games, movie posters and action figures. Gar reveals to Rachel, that he is a nerd, for these specific collectibles. Prior to this, when Gar finds Rachel in the forest, while still in Tiger mode, when he changes back, he tells her he’s never bit a human before. Garfield, as played by Ryan Potter, is a kind, positive and energetic person. This mirrors every incarnation of him I’ve seen, be it comics, or animation. It was great to get some insight into the character and delve more into his personality. I’ve seen some fans worry about a romance between the two characters, of Gar and Rachel, given the actors are about 10 years apart. From what I can see so far, it’s more of a best friend/Brother-sister type of relationship being conveyed.
As for the rest of the Doom Patrol, we’ve got Cliff Steele aka Robot Man, Larry Trainor, aka Negative Man and Rita Farr, aka Elasta-Girl. When Dr. Niles Caulder is properly introduced, he gives Rachel a brief intro to what made these individuals who they are. Cliff Steele is a race car driver who was in a horrible accident, destroying his body. His brain was transferred into the robotic body he now has. Larry Trainor was a pilot for the air force, who crashed his plane and was exposed to a negative energy. As for Rita Farr, Elasta-Girl, contact with a toxic gas left the cells within her body unstable, thus she was put into an institution. Every member of the Doom Patrol had been in accidents but aside from that, the other commonality between them, is that they were all rescued, repaired, or freed by Dr. Caulder. Speaking of Dr. Caulder, he is a scientist who rescues people, the medical profession has given up for. Not only does he offer these people shelter and family, the experiments he performs on them, are all in the name of advancing medical science and breakthroughs. He’s very protective and reclusive with the Doom Patrol. Even quite upset initially, that Garfield brought an outsider into the fold. I’ve never read Doom Patrol, so I have little to no context for the information presented but with Geoff Johns writing the episode, no doubt, the brief backstories given, are accurate to the source material. We only got quick flashbacks to Elasta-Girl’s origin, where’s the other back stories were told verbally. I wonder, when Doom Patrol gets it’s own live action show, if we’ll get full on visual origins, going back to the formation of the group, or if they’ll pick up from this episode. My guess is a bit of both. Look wise, my favourite member is Robotman. The practical costume looked great. The character with the most intriguing backstory, is Rita Farr. As for Negative Man, he represents an unknown quantity. Look wise, he reminds me of a cross between Hush and the Invisible Man. As for Niles Caulder, he was the weakest of the bunch for me, due to actor Bruno Bichir. He came off as very bland to me. I can see why he’s being replaced by Timothy Dalton.
If I was to describe, the interactions, and dynamic of the characters, I’d say it’s a mix of the X-Men, mixed with the Addams Family, by way of The Munsters. It’s a quirky mix, just like the Doom Patrol themselves My favourite scene is the dinner scene, between Robotman and Rachel. When he says how he used to dance, but doesn’t anymore because no one will dance with someone who looks like him. Rachel said she would and begins to mimic the robot dance. It’s such a quick moment, but it’s honest, sweet and felt genuine. In this episode, we see that Rachel’s powers allow her to heal the injured and save those that are near death. We see her with Beast Boy at the beginning of the episode, save a dear that had been shot by hunters. We then see her use her powers, to help Dr. Caulder save a new patient. Here’s where the episode takes a turn and the action kicks in. After seeing her powers, Dr. Caulder wants to run some tests on Rachel. At first she agrees but once she’s strapped to the table changes her mind. Dr. Caulder refuses her request and Beast Boy steps in to defend her but Doctor Caulder injects him with a tranquillizer. Here’s where the Raven personality gets enraged and lets loose because, he hurt her friend. The fact that even the “Raven” aspect of Rachel is acknowledging Gar as her friend, shows character growth, accepting she is not alone but also hints that she has more control over the spirit within, than originally thought. Raven creates a force field around the laboratory, the evil spirit within begins to engulf Dr. Caulder, choking the life out of him. When Dick and Kory arrive, Dick calms her down, promising to never leave her, and be there for her. This scene also reminded me of Batman Forever, when Batman rescues Dick Grayson from that neon gang, and as Dick vents his anger. Batman is there, restraining and calming him down. As Rachel lets go, the black mist hurls Dr. Caulder against the wall, leaving him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair. This of course, aligns Dr. Caulder’s live action version, with his comic book counter part. The Doom Patrol urge Beast Boy to leave with Dick, Rachel, and Kory and live his life, while they help Dr. Caulder recover.
In terms of action content, this episode of Titans was the slowest. It also was the first to feature an acting performance that didn’t impress me. However, it got me excited about the Doom Patrol, a group of characters I never cared about investigating, prior to this episode. I also am more eager for the Doom Patrol live action series now, as opposed to prior to this episode. In this regard, job well done to all involved.
“Alex asks Lena and Brainiac to team up and help Supergirl; J’onn discovers new ways to help his fellow aliens after running into Manchester Black.” (The CW)
The combination of anti-alien sentiment and Supergirl being sidelined via Kryptonite in the atmosphere, is taking it’s toll on ordinary citizenry but higher level of Government as well. The president has ordered that Supergirl only be deployed at 100% health and on his order. Furthermore, he plans on sending army personnel of his own, to evaluate Alex and her performance. Alex begins to break down, blaming perceived unpreparedness and lack of leadership for Otis and Mercy’s escape, as well as Supergirl’s Predicament. Meanwhile, J’onn J’onzz, is blaming his spiritual stance, abandoning taking up arms, as the culprit for Fiona being in danger. Meanwhile, while the containment armor works to cleanse Kara’s system of Kryptonite, she regains consciousness and has a mini panic attack! Also, when Alex informers her that she has to stay inactive, while Brainiac 5 and Lena, rid the atmosphere of Kryptonite, she becomes incredibly agitated and frustrated. I appreciate that the episode highlights this. it shows that even though we’re used to seeing our heroes win the day, they do buckle under the pressure of hardship, they are fallible. It also gives us a great emotional scene between Alex and J’onn. Alex reaffirms that J’onn’s father would be proud of the way he is becoming a spiritual leader amongst the alien community. J’onn reassure Alex that bad things occurred on his watch at the DEO and that he’s more confident than ever, that he made the right choice leaving Alex in charge. I’ve always loved the father/daughter relationship between Alex and J’onn. Chyler Leigh and David Harewood have the perfect on screen dynamic to pull that relationship off.
J’onn eventually meets up with Manchester Black, who in the Supergirl Arrowverse, is the boyfriend of J’onn’s missing co-worker Fiona. Here we learn the story of how he used to be a soccer hooligan and was in a gang. However, he was convinced to straighten out his act, when he met Fiona. However, his “boys” aka crew, became uneasy when they discover she is an alien,so he sends her away to America to keep her safe. It seems to me, we have hints of the Manchester Black from his initial attitude towards J’onn, his drinking prowess and his cockiness. We see him sit and take a break in the midst of fighting. I think the season will turn the character into the Manchester Black that is more familiar from the comics. More on that in a bit. Manchester an J’onn work together to discover that Fiona is in fact alive, being held captive by Mercy and Agent Liberty. Her telepathic power allows her to connect to other aliens. They are using that link and a device, where she can control them. They are having her force alien citizens to attack children and families, to further create alien hate from human citizens towards aliens. The link between J’onn and Fiona, looked like memories being projected in the air, with a Instagram filter look to it. Also, the reveal that Fiona wasn’t dead, was a nice surprise.
Of course, Alex enlists Supergirl’s help for the National City Fair fight, directly going against the President’s earlier sanctions. What’s great about this battle is that with Supergirl, in the containment armor, heavily depowered, she needs help in the form of Alex, J’onn, Manchester Black, and even James Olsen as Guardian, comes out of retirement. There was a good mix of human and alien combatants. For most of the fight, Mercy, Otis and the mind controlled aliens have the upper hand. That is until, Lena and Brainiac 5, deploy nanites to purify the air of Kryptonite. This restores Supergirl to full power. She is able to disarm Otis and the link between Fiona and the mind controlled aliens is severed. However, there’s a twist. I wasn’t expecting this. After finding and being reuniting with Fiona, once the link is severed, she dies in Manchester Black’s arm’s, with J’onn nearby. In her short time on the show, the character of Fiona gave us new insight into J’onn’s new mission and gave this show an introduction to Manchester Black. That’s a lot for a two episode stint. At the end of the episode, we see Agent Liberty, implanting pieces of an alien parasite, into his DEO defectors. I’m assuming, this will give them some kind of powers, to take on Supergirl and the others? My question, is was that a sample of the one true Parasite? Agent Liberty’s group also twist the headlines of Guardian’s return, to make it seem like Jim Olsen’s vigilante is on their side. Over in Russia, we get a quick glimpse of Russian Supergirl, who has been in some kind of led containment, being protected from the Kryptonite but is now ready to resume her training. We also see Manchester Black, buying an arsenal of guns, seemingly read to go on a Punisher esque rampage! I think the death of Fiona, will Bring out the full blown comic book version of the character.
Supergirl continues to get better with each week in my opinion. In this short week, it is my RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse episode of the week!
“Oliver and Felicity each make drastic moves to find Diaz; the new Green Arrow swoops in when arsonists target Rene’s community center; Dinah faces pressure from the mayor to capture the vigilante.” (The CW)
The final episode of this weeks truncated RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse belongs to Arrow. Oliver being thrown in Level 2 of the Supermax doesn’t get him the answers he seeks. Instead, he meets a psychiatrist, Dr. Parker, who wants to analyze and reform him. At first Oliver wont budge, so the doctor resorts to a constant barrage of flickering lights, in hopes of getting Oliver to open up, if even for the sake of relief from that torture. Oliver begins to tell the doctor that he adopted the Green Arrow persona, to right his fathers wrongs and that his father killed himself and his associate, so that his son could survive the shipwreck and island. Dr. Parker describes Oliver’s father as a murderer, saying that this decision was responsible for all the lives Oliver took as Green Arrow. He then brings William into the discussion, asking Oliver what kind of example he is setting for his son. He asks Oliver what he would do, if he was in that same situation with William. When Oliver gets tight lipped again, Dr. Parker subjects Oliver to a new form of electrical shock therapy, that targets areas of the brain, that hold a persons greatest fear. For Oliver, this was his father telling him to right his wrongs. When the Doctor prods him again on what he’d tell his son if in the same situation, see Oliver’s thought, where he tells William to live and lead the best life possible. The next day when Dr. Parker questions Oliver and asks what his name is, Oliver refers to himself as his inmate number. Is this a sign Dr. Parker’s treatments are working, or is Oliver just playing along for now? I’m going with the second option. Dr. Parker seemed to get more agitated and emphatic, when discussing Oliver’s father and his relation to Oliver becoming Green Arrow. I think it’s possible that Dr. Parker is the Demon and working with Diaz. Does he have an as of yet unknown connection to Robert Queen? I’m certainly curious!
Felicity Smoak had The Silencer captive and was ready to torture her for information on Diaz. First, she tried to wrangle Rene into her plan. When he realizes Felicity seems willing to tale things too far, he tells her she needs to step back and clear her head. Unsatisfied, she recruits Laurel into her machinations. At first, Laurel aka Black Siren, is impressed with this apparent, hard as nails, no nonsense Felicity. However, when Felicity seems to be okay with the thought of The Silencer dying due to over exposure from Laurel’s sonic scream, Laurel tells her this is not her and that she should use her brain, not torture, to gain information on Diaz. To get through to Felicity, Laurel tells Felicity that the Quentin and Oliver of her Earth were killed, which led her on a quest for revenge. Her first kill changed her and led her down to the path of becoming Black Siren. I really love how Katie Cassidy is handling this redemptive arc, for Earth 2 Laurel. When given good material, she nails it. The episode was really pushing a change in Felicity, that she was willing to cross the line for revenge. Here’s the problem, not once did I buy it. In fact, it’s laughable. If she was so willing to go that far, why did she have to bring Rene, and Laurel in, to do her dirty work? Furthermore, Rene and Laurel ultimately knew she didn’t have it in her to kill and flat out told her so. In my opinion, Emily Bett Rickards, was doing her fair share of overacting, trying to sell the idea that, Felicity’s become this vengeful person, with the guts to make a kill! The other characters in these scenes make them barrable.
Stepping away from Felicity’s foolishness, Dinah Drake and Rene have to contend with hired arsonists who are burning down business locales in the Glades, later being bought by the owner of a big corporation. Naturally, the new Green Arrow intervened to help stop these fires. At one point, when Rene prevented Dinah from arresting the Emerald Archer, she arrests him. I understand that she is buckling under the pressure from her superiors, to apprehend the Green Arrow and capture Diaz but I found her arrest of Rene, to be a hypocritical. It takes a visit from John Diggle, who points out that Quentin Lance, who previously held Dinah’s position was a honest, law abiding person who bent the rules and worked with vigilante’s, when it was necessary.. These words hit Dinah hard, causing her to free Rene and partner with him and the new Green Arrow. That actually gets results and they prevent the burning of a movie theater. What I always like about Arrow, is that even though John Diggle has disagreed with every member of Team Arrow, they always heed his advice and counsel, which usually ends up putting them back on the right path. The Flashforwards are back. Here we see Old Man Roy and Future William return to a Star City in ruins, almost apocalyptic. The map leads them to a defunct Smoak Technologies, which is guarded by police. Before they are taken in, the police are taken out by a hooded hero with a bow staff. After revealing herself as Dinah Drake, she tells them that Star City got so bad, that the people in power built a wall around the Glades, to keep certain people out. Not only did I chuckle at the Trump reference, the part that really put a smile on my face, was when future Dinah tells us that Felicity died in this future! 1. Take me there ASAP 2. If not Felicity, who guided them to Smoak Technologies? It was also cool to see an adult version of Rene’s daughter, who has followed in her fathers footsteps and joined the Vigilante Resistance.
This episode of Arrow definitely left me with some answers but way more questions. I’m fine with that, as long as I’m intrigued and not utterly confused.
Score : B+
That brings this shorter RTF Review: Tales From the DC MulTVerse to an end. It was a short week but the episodes were so good, so quality over quantity wins out this week!