Welcome to The Pop Break’s weekly round up of all the DCTV that the CW could squeeze into its schedule. Follow this space as we track Supergirl, Batwoman, The Flash, and Arrow as this super-powered quartet embark on a collision course to the epic multi-night crossover event: Crisis on Infinite Earths!
Supergirl Season 5, Episode 5: “Dangerous Liaisons”
We are less than a month away from the epic multi-night crossover event, and still Supergirl is holding its connection to the growing Crisis close to its vest. We know way back in last years finale, The Monitor brought Mal out of the Phantom Zone and onto Kara’s Earth, pointing him in J’onn’s direction before disappearing. This week, Mal is Lena’s prisoner.
The rest of the team thinks Mal has been sent back to the Phantom Zone, but, as teased last week, Lena actually rigged the device to transport him back to her lab instead. In the closing moments of last week’s episode, it seemed as though Lena and Mal were about to enter into a collaborative team up, pushing Lena’s tenuous status as a morally grey spoiler this season to the limit. However, in this week’s episode, it becomes quickly clear that Lena is simply feigning a heel turn so she can manipulate Mal long enough to figure out what frequency of Q-waves he uses to mind control any sentient life-form. She sees this frequency as the key to creating a device to incept all of humanity with a primary directive: do no harm.
It is unclear if this device, or its potential fall out, will factor into The Monitors plan for the Crisis that’s coming. As we learn in one of our other Arrowverse shows this week, it’s equally unclear whether The Monitor’s plan can even be trusted at all.
Meanwhile, the rest of the episode places the spotlight on William. After Kara figured out the truth last week (that William is actually super nice and just trying to get close to Andrea as part of a year’s long investigative journalism exposé), we get some time this week to learn his motivations and move the ball forward a bit on the Leviathan story. It turns out, William is motivated by the apparent death of his best friend, who had been dating Andrea at the time of his disappearance.
It’s no surprise that the mysterious assassin with robot arms trying to start an ecological disaster turns out to be William’s missing friend, and it’s no surprise that, right as William and Kara realize Andrea isn’t leading a secret crime empire, we learn that Andrea is actually an unwilling Leviathan agent as well. By episodes end, I can’t say I’m any more interested in Leviathan, but I do feel pretty certain we are headed for a Kara and William romance before the end of the season.
Batwoman Season 1, Episode 5: “Mine Is A Long Sad Tale”
Over in Gotham, the creative team is still making the smart choice to avoid any Crisis related lead up and instead focus on figuring out what version of Batwoman works best. The last two weeks had slightly more of a procedural, rinse and repeat structure as Kate gets more comfortable living behind her cowl. This week, we get a far more paired back and focused iteration of the series, and it works much better.
The creative team have, hopefully, figured out that Kate’s most interesting screen partner is Alice, and they’ve devoted this entire episode to exploring that dynamic deeper while providing the Alice origin story I guess we’ve all been waiting for.
It was a relief to see the episode begin with Kate showing some competence by immediately getting the jump on Alice and capturing her. In a sequence that could have lasted the entire episode, Kate quickly realizes Alice is stealing skin off corpses from the morgue, tracks her down, and captures her.
The rest of the episode is a literal trip down memory lane, as we go on a road trip to the home Alice ended up in after washing up off the shore of the river as a young girl. Along the way, Alice gives Kate a portrait of her past, piece by piece. Alice, then Beth, was kidnapped and forced to by the plaything of a sweet young boy whose face was disfigured and whose father was trying to steal other people’s faces to create a mask her his son, or something to that effect. She relishing in telling Kate the gory, agonizing details, before eventually drugging her and flipping the tables on her.
The episode ends with Kate’s dad, whose wife has admitted to him that the bones her company found all those years ago were deer bones and not proof Beth was dead, and Sophie coming to her rescue. Alice gets away and we realize she’s still working with that young boy, whose all grown up and goes by mouse now. Setting the central conflict up as one of family betraying family, one way or another, is a compelling choice moving forward. We’ll have to see if they can actually capitalize on that potential.
The Flash Season 6, Episode 5: “Kiss Kiss, Breach Breach”
For the last few weeks, Barry has been trying to convince the team they need to prepare for life after The Flash, now that he’s certain he will die in the Crisis. This week, we get a glimpse at what this series might look like if we really do lose him, as Barry takes Iris on a belated honeymoon, trying to make the most of their last days together.
With the West-Allens on vacation and off screen (likely so they can film Crisis-related material), Cisco takes center stage. Carlos Valdez, who plays Cisco, does a more than adequate job filling in as this week’s protagonist in a very emotionally weighted episode. His arc centers on his need to trust in himself as the potential new team leader, a position Barry let him know he’d like to see Cisco take on in his absence. To do that, he needs to figure out who killed his ex girlfriend Gypsy, even if it might have been him.
On a show where multiple earths and evil doppelgängers are commonplace, it really wasn’t all too difficulty to figure out where this story was headed, which is that an evil alternate version of Cisco, codenamed Echo, killed Gypsy and framed our Cisco for it. However, watching Valdes walk through the various phases of the predictable plot was quite effective. He grounded the emotions consistently, even with Gypsy’s overprotective dad Breacher (Dany Trejo) serving over the top camp as his most frequent scene partner.
Elsewhere, Frost and Caitlin work together, while icing out Ralph, to try to talk Ramsay out of this dangerous path he’s on. Ramsay is pretty far down the mustache twirling supervillain road, so their efforts were for not and mostly served as a reminder that Ramsay is the big bad of at least the first half of the season. Meanwhile, Joe has been keeping tabs on Nash Wells and the end up trapped in a tunnel under the city, mostly in order to have an extended discussion about having faith, which was the uniting theme of this week’s episode. After Joe’s faith finally pays off when Ralph slides in to save the day, the team let slip that they have been talking to The Monitor, which piques Wells’ interest and gets him to admit he’s really on this Earth with a plan to save Barry Allen.
Arrow Season 8, Episode 3 “Present Tense”
After ending last week’s episode on the mother of all cliffhangers (right as Team Arrow: The Class are at their lowest point they are inexplicably transported back in time to the Star City bunker with Oliver and the gang in 2019), we jump right into things this week.
Arrow continues to be the best Arrowverse series currently airing by pushing the boundaries of what this show can be while exploring the past, and now future, we’ve all been watching for the better part of a decade. This week is no different, as we get to revisit the Deathstroke assault on the city which ended season two while also seeing Team Arrow and TA:TNC bouncing off each other in real time instead of just thematically.
The kids try to keep quiet about what they know about the future, to avoid messing up the timeline but also to spare the older generation from the pain the kids have to carrying, including the very recent news that JJ, John’s son, has killed Zooey, Renée‘s daughter. However, when the rise of the Deathstrokes begin, their attempts to handle things on their own prove futile and, quickly, the cat is out of the bag.
All of these cross generational scenes crackle exactly as you’d hope, with Connor & John and Mia & Oliver as the clear stand outs. There’s also I nice moment where William finally gets to come out to Oliver, only for Oliver to say he’s always known and always loved him. The show is basically patting itself on the back for the truly great job it did in casting believable younger counter parts to the Team Arrow we are used to, and you love to see it. Eventually the entire crew decide to take up the cause of preventing the current future from coming to fruition, and they are already making an impact by changing the historical record.
How this all factors into The Monitor’s plan remains unclear. However, after last week’s revelation that the League of Assassin’s believed The Monitor a cosmic force who would bring on the end of all things, not help prevent it, Oliver has called on Curtis to rejoin the team to develop a device that might kill The Monitor. Presumably, the omnipotent The Monitor is award of all of this and is allowing it to continue for some other reason. I wonder if Oliver’s plan is anything like Nash Wells’ plan over on this week’s The Flash…