A Mushroom Mish-Mash
Arrowverse 2021 Season: Week 31
Not a lot changes this week in the ArrowverseWhen it was announced that the CW was creating a show based on the Green Arrow, people laughed. The CW? Really? Was it going to be teen-oriented like everything else on the network and be called "Arrow High"? And yet that one show, Arrow has spawned three spin-offs, various related shows and given DC a successful shared universe, the Arrowverse on TV and streaming.. Still just two main shows going, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, and the only one making real progress is the Legends as it heads into its endgame for season six.
So let's not faff about and just get into it:
Supergirl, Season 6, Episode 9: Dream Weaver
If this were a normal season of Supergirl then the pace the show was taking in setting up its stories this year would be fine. It's pretty clear that the show is taking a page from The Flash and doing "pods" or "graphic novels" for its story arcs this year -- Kara stuck in the Phantom Zone as one arc, and then Kara dealing with Nyxly as her second arc -- but this isn't a normal season of Supergirl. For one, its shortened, only getting 20 episodes (of which we've already basically burned half that), but also because this is the final season of the show. It's introducing a lot of new stuff right near the end, much of which doesn't seem like it can really pay off in just 10 or so episodes, and it leaves me wondering if the show bit off more than it can chew for this finale.
Bear in mind I actually think this is a much improved episode this week in comparison to the trash fire (quite literally) of last week's episode. Here the focus is largely on Kara, ace reporter, and the few times she has to go out as Supergirl she fights pretty mundane threats that are easier to depict on the CW budget. It works well in the context, and keeping everything tied back to Kara's "normal" life puts the emphasis on the part of the show that actually still works. That's great and it made for a fairly enjoyable episode.
The issue is in all the things the show is trying to setup. The one that's obviously going to wrap up this season is Nyxly, the 5th dimensional imp, haunting Nia's dreams so that she can get Nia to help her gain access to Earth. The imp swears that she has good intentions, that she just wants to go home but is stuck in this dream world, but Nia has her doubts. By episode's end, though, our dream weaver has been convinced and she agrees to help out Nyxly. Obviously this is all a ruse and Nyxly is our big bad (it's been clearly telegraphed since the last pod), but this is also an arc perfectly made to fit into the last few episodes of the show. That's fine.
But beyond that we also have the introduction of Intergang, the underworld criminal organization that has ties to Darkseid. I think introducing Darkseid would be a bold move for the CW and, even with their meager budget, could be the kind of big arc over the next few seasons that could drive the crossovers for the Arrowverse. My issue here is that if Intergang is just being used in Supergirl then its a waste of potential. Ten or so episodes are not enough time to do justice to this recurring villainous gang, and if the producers want to intro Darkseid as well in there, that's even worse.
My concern here is that Supergirl barely feels connected to the rest of the Arrowverse anymore. The version of the Fortress of Solitude seen on this show is completely different from how its shown on Superman & Lois, making it feel like the shows take place on two different universes (despite one show spinning off from the other). One hand clearly doesn't know what the other hand is doing and, thus, whatever plans Supergirl has more than likely are going to remain on her show and now verge out, ever. Maybe I'm wrong, but right now I doubt it.
Alongside all that we then have Kelly Olsen taking up the mantle of Guardian. Again, this is a storyline that I think could be interesting given the room to breathe even if the show is trying to shoehorn Kelly into this role (basically like it shoehorned in Jimmy before this but at least he had four seasons or so to grow into that role). But ten-ish episodes is barely enough time to let Kelly feel like she's earned this job, let alone do that along with everything else the show has going on. It's just a lot.
If the show weren't in its last season, and only had half of that left at that, I wouldn't have so many quibbles. But when you take into account what time is left, and how siloed this show feels already, I just don't see how this is going to end as well as the show would like. We'll just have to see.
Legends of Tomorrow, Season 6, Episode 14: There Will Be Brood
And here, on the other side of the 'verse, we have the Legends just doing their thing and pacing their stories properly. With Bishop stealing their ship it leaves most of the Legends stranded. Spooner and Astra, though, were still on the ship. When Bishop (with Constantine in tow) land in 1925 Texas Astra and Spoons jump out to try and see what the two of them are up to... and then they get tangled in their own time loop craziness.
Bishop and Constantine are in Texas for the Fountain of Imperium, that magical source of, well, magic that moves through time and space. It's always somewhere on Earth and, as we eventually learn, that's because it's actually an alien mushroom entity that landed on Earth eons ago and has been protecting the world ever since from extra-terrestrial threats (just ignore the whole Arrowverse "Invasion" plot line for this to make sense). If John could tap into it he could have the magic of the mushrooms... except Bishop tricks John once the mage is connected to the mushroom, poisons him and works to kill the protection for the Earth.
Meanwhile, Spooner runs into a woman that she feels an instant connection towards. As it turns out this woman is actually Spooner's mother; due to time-loop shenanigans, men came to kill Spooner's mother (to steal her land) and young Esperanza (Spooner) ran off into the woods as it happened, finding the magic mushroom and getting teleported inside where she eventually ended up in a much later era, thinking aliens had killed her mom (when it was really just men). Astra and Spooner have to protect the magic mushroom (which, they fail at) and hope the Earth is safe.
That's a lot of story but, thankfully, the show handles much of it really well. What I appreciate the most about this episode is that so much of it is focused on characters we didn't normally get to follow: Astra, Spooner, and Constantine. All the Legends we know are sidelined in a different era for two-thirds of the episode, putting the weight of the story on these other, less frequently used, characters. It's a nice twist in the formula and helps to keep this episode fresh.
What I like less is that Bishop becomes far more one-note this time around. The fun character that was showing such growth last episode is gone and Bishop is back in his much less interesting megalomaniacal mode. The villain works best when he's not being villainous and that weakens his story here completely. It's pretty obvious all the twists and turns that are going to happen because there's no depth to Bishop: if it's evil, he'll do it, end of story. For Bishop to work we need more from him than just the full evil he's become, but we're so late in his arc by the time he's even introduced at the start of this season that it's all but impossible to get that. I thought last episode was turning that around, but no.
This is a fine episode, picked up but it changes to the formula, and fun in general. It's not the strongest episode of the show and that's all because of Bishop. I just think this guy is a dud and I dunno how the show can fix that considering the finale is next week.
Elsewhere in the 'Verse
- Stargirl gave us an Artemis-focused episode as the female football player (with rage issues) struggles to deal with the fact that her parents (Sportsmaster and Tigress) are in prison for what happened in season one. It's actually a pretty strong episode, giving us not only a better look at Artemis (who could join the ISA II or follow in the path of her character from Young Justice and join with the Justice Society) but fleshing out our recurring characters as well. This show is shaking off the dust really well and its starting to settle into quite a watchable groove.
- Titans turns back to the present as Dick and Barbara deal with a old foe from their past and Starfire tries to keep Blackfire under control. This was a better episode of the show which, really, felt like it rushed through all the setup for the season in its front half but now wants to cool down and move at a normal pace. This is the pace the show should move at but, so frequently, never does, sadly.