TV Recap: Across the Arrowverse – Week 1

Across the Arrowverse
Week 1

Welcome to Across the Arrowverse, a new weekly round up everything that happened this week in the 5 DC superhero shows that air on The CW. We are including Black Lightning in the Arrowverse though its not been explicitly included but c’mon, it’ll happen eventually. And even if it doesn’t, well, you still want to know what’s going on with the Pierce family, admit it! Formate wise, we are going to briefly (for me anyway) recap each episode and then at the end, summarize any cross show references you need to be aware of (e.g., tonight’s The Flash had several Legends of Tomorrow references)

This week saw the season premieres of The Flash and Black Lightning with the other shows coming online in the next two weeks.

The Flash
“Nora” (Episode 501)
October 9, 2018

“My name is Nora West-Allen, the fastest woman alive …” And so begins Season 5 of The Flash.

You’ll recall some plot points from the end of Season 4: Killer Frost has always been a part of Caitlin; satellites all crashed to Earth as part of DeVoe’s master plan; and Barry and Iris’s daughter, Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy), is a speedster from 30 years in the future and she spent a large part of Season 4 hanging out, spying on her parents in secret.

Photo: Katie Yu/The CW

Picking up right where we left off last season, Nora has just dropped the bomb that she’s Barry and Iris’ daughter. Adding new info, she’s a speedster named XS (the nickname coming from Iris when Nora was little – she was always over doing things, getting in over her head). She also cops to being the speedster that helped Barry destroy the STAR Labs Satellite the night before.

Season Problem #1: Nora is stuck here because she can’t seem to access the speed force. Tests at STAR Labs don’t initially reveal anything wrong with her; she just doesn’t seem to be going fast enough to open up the speed force. Other tests seem to confirm that she is in fact the daughter of Iris and Barry. Barry gives a sample of Nora’s blood to Wally to give to the Legends … maybe they can give her a ride back to the future if it comes to that.

At the CCPD, Barry has his job back as the CSI Tech and somehow, no forensic work was done all of last season while Barry was out of a job. Lots of backlog waiting here. Nora pops in – she’s a forensic scientist like her dad. But, you know, in the future. Barry hears a call for a Meta attack and, using an original Flash suit Nora retrieves from Cisco’s closet, he goes to work.  He implores Nora to stay – do not help.  Sure, that’ll work.

Meet Gridlock.  Gridlock (Daniel Cudmore) is a Meta that absorbs kinetic energy (which makes him stronger) so when Flash initially takes him down with a lightning punch, Gridlock is able to punch Barry into orbit with the energy he absorbed from Flash’s initial attack.  I should note that Flash was distracted by XS who shows up to watch. How did XS know who Gridlock was? The Flash Museum, natch. According to the Flash Museum (which has all of the people the Flash fought, in chronological order), Gridlock should have been a one and done criminal. Thanks to Nora’s distraction, though … problems!  NO MORE MESSING UP THE TIMELINE, NORA! Yeesh, the daughter of Barry and Iris should really be more sensitive to timeline altering actions which is basically doing … anything.

Photo: Katie Yu/The CW

Iris is much less fussed about the timeline and wants to bond with her adult daughter. Nora is distinctly uninterested in answering her mom’s questions of coffee at Jitters (which costs $43 a cup in the future). Nora only has eyes for her dad, the fangirl of fangirls, knowing every inch of his Flash life.

Negative Tachyons.  Wally returns with info from the Legends and the Time Bureau.  Nora’s body is saturated with negative tachyons which are slowing her down and preventing her from entering the Speed Force.  These negative tachyons also prevent her from going home on the Waverider – if the negative tachyons come near the time drive, it’ll vaporize the ship.

Why is Nora so Barry Obsessed?  While talking to Iris about missing out on the firsts” of having a child by having adult Nora here now, he realizes that something is wrong with how Nora has been acting.  He confronts Nora & she admits that when the Flash disappears in 2024 (the same headline we’ve seen before), 25 years go by and he’s still not back (she shows him a headline from 2049). Flash never returns. Nora has no memories of Barry has a dad – he disappeared while she was still an infant/toddler.  Barry realizes that Nora isn’t really stuck – she’s wearing a negative tachyon patch – a self inflicted restrictor plate on her abilities. Barry was so worried about screwing up his family’s future and missing Nora’s firsts, in the end, he disappears in the future and misses her first anyway. Nora laments that she never learned all she could from her dad – she can’t even phase yet.

Gridlock’s Endgame. Gridlock has boarded a plane with the intent to crash it. Well, to steal a steel briefcase and bring the whole plane down with an electric surge. Nora, using her Flash knowledge, tells Barry he can phase the plane through a building (he’ll do it again in the future), avoiding the death of thousands of people. She produces a back up Flash suit, which emerges from a Flash ring (major shout out to the comic books!) and Barry, Wally and Nora are off to save the day. On the plane, Nora is having cold feet (remember, she’s never even phased herself) but Barry channels the lessons given to him by Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh, appearing in flashbacks – we miss you already) and it works! The 3 speedsters phase the plane through a building and land it safely in the harbor.

The Wrap-Up. Cisco, using Time Bureau tech, has made the device necessary to remove the negative tachyons from Nora’s system but Barry tells her to stay a bit; test out her powers. Wally explains that the Legends taught him not all timeline events are created equal and as long as Nora doesn’t mess with any cornerstone events (like Nora Allen’s death), no Flashpoint level damage should occur.  The two speedsters head out for ice cream in Rhode Island, Iris is left at home – this is going to be a thing for Iris.

Side note from earlier in the episode that I didn’t think much about: it seems like Kid Flash isn’t sticking around, with his dad urging him to go back and finish finding himself.

Ralph, who has spent the whole episode being befuddled by the idea of time travel (really, man, keep up!) and Killer Frost being gone, produces a copy of Caitlin’s father death certificate … which is fake as it turns out. Daddy Snow is alive?!?

Post Credit Scene.  Gridlock’s transport to Iron Heights is interrupted by a masked man wearing a hood and mask (if Bane’s facemask and Kylo Ren’s facemask had a baby, it would look like this facemask). He tells Gridlock that he wants them “all to die.” He’s wielding a metal/electrified lightning bolt dagger in his hand. Meet Cicada (Chris Klein).

**Barry’s New Suit. The new Flash suit, which comes from the ring, is not a future Cisco creation.  Nora tells Cisco (and us) it was made by Ryan Choi, a DC Comics character we’ve not met in the Arrowverse before.  In the comics, Choi is a scientist and something of a Ray Palmer protege, even becoming a successor to Ray Palmer’s “Atom” character.  I’m interested to see if meet Ran down the road …

*****

Black Lightning
“The Book of Consequences: Chapter One:
Rise of the Green Light Babies” (Episode 201)
October 9, 2018

Green Light Babies.  We open up the season 2 premiere of Black Lightning a week after the events of the finale when Tobias and Khalil (I will NOT call him Painkiller, that remains a horrible name) terrorized the school and almost killed Jefferson. We learn through the ever present news channels that “Green Light Babies” are roaming the streets of Freeland and being killed by the police. We see one, Issa Williams (Myles Truitt), killed by police. Later in the episode, Issa comes back to life as he’s being carried in a bodybag, much to the dismay of his mother. Issa takes off running from the ASA goons swarming him.

Garfield High School.  Jefferson is behind his desk at Garfield but he may not be for long – he is being disciplined for being absent during the events of the finale. Further, the school is going to remain closed until its all repaired and psychologists can be brought into counsel the students.

Lynn.  When the episode opens, Lynn is being taken to task by Agent Odell (Bill Duke) of the ASA about what she did or did not know and do vis a vis the Green Light Pod People.  By the episode that, much to Agent Odell’s chagrin, Lynn gets her way and is put in charge of the Green Light Pod People. Having Gambi pull strings seems to have worked. We haven’t seen the end of Agent Odell.

Jennifer. Jennifer is having some problems with controlling her powers.  We see her first this season when she wakes up, Anissa having videotaped her floating above her bed while being super electric charged. Later on, while hanging with Kiesha, Jennifer sees the video on social media of Issa rising from the dead.  This triggers her powers and she hides in the bathroom. Kiesha is convinced we are living through the “end of days.”  Later that night, Jen is still in the bathroom, when Jefferson comes in to see her, she’s in the tub and is something akin to pure energy. She’s not in pain, she says, but she can’t “stop it.” Jefferson helps her out of the tub. Activating his own powers, he wraps her in a big bear hug and absorbs her energy, bringing her back to normal.

Kara and Syonide.  Ms. Fowdy has an epic parking garage fight with one of my favorite female psychopaths, Syonide, over THE  briefcase from last season. For her part, Fowdy is packing some duffel bags in her car when this starts – girlfriend leaving town? Anyway, fight fight fight. The fight ends with Fowdy throwing a stiletto heel knife into Syonide’s neck. Syonide better NOT be dead. Note, we last saw “the briefcase” when it was in the possession of Tobias at the end of last season … it had that ominous green glow coming from it.

Gambi Tailors. Kara comes to see Gambi at his shop. She calls herself a “fellow spotter.”  She wants out of the ASA life and in exchange, she’ll get the mysterious briefcase into Peter’s hands. He doesn’t even know what it’s in the briefcase but he’s definitely interested. “Hell” is the woman’s response.

Jefferson and Frank Napier. Jefferson goes to childhood friend, Napier Frank (Robert Townsend), who also happens to sit on the board. He’s looking to pull some favor to remain at the school. Napier calls Jefferson out for acting arrogant and flagrantly ignoring the board’s wishes and safety of Garfield in service of his own ego.  He’s here for the safety of the kids, not for protecting Jefferson’s job.  Burnnnnn!

Photo: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW 

At the end of the episode, Frank tells Jefferson that the board has voted to close Garfield HS permanently.  Echoing Frank’s earlier comment about wanting to save the kids and not Jefferson’s job, Jefferson offers to resign as principal in exchange for the school staying open. Napier looks very pleased at this news.

Jefferson and Anissa.  At a community meeting, Anissa becomes outraged when she learns the government is not releasing the Pod Kids to their families. Reverend Holt is organizing a legal battle to sue to return them but Anissa wants to take a more aggressive approach.  Jefferson tells her that they need to focus on bringing down Whale, Syonide and Khalil. That’s how they are best serving the community.

Lynn and Jennifer.  Dismissing Jefferson’s concerns that Jennifer needs space to learn how to control her powers, Lynn confronts her youngest about having to deal with her predicament. Laying out the several things that are bat shit crazy in her life, currently, Jennifer explodes at her mother asking, “which part do you want me to deal with first, mom?” Unfortunately, when she loses her temper, she accidentally burns a lightning hole in her mom. Whoopsies!

Photo: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW 

Anissa. with her classic brand of of community activism, Anissa goes Robin Hooding to raise cash for Rev Holt’s legal fund. Interesting to note that she’s not in her Thunder costume and she uses her most damaging powers sparingly – I am she doesn’t want to reveal who she is given that she’s proactively robbing a drug den. Once she’s spotted, she ends up taking out every guy in the house and then takes all of their cash too. Later in the episode, still wearing her ridiculous mask and not disguising her voice at all, Anissa enters the church mid-sermon and dumps the giant load of cash at Reverend Holt’s feet. Praise the Lord, indeed.

Deputy Chief Henderson and Black Lightning.  Henderson has called Black Lightning to a meeting and without preamble, calls Black Lightning out on the carpet if he is really Jefferson Pierce. Jefferson, knowing he’s busted, takes off his mask.  I love when superheros reveal themselves this way – mask on, mask off.  In 2 guesses, Henderson learns that Thunder is Anissa.  “what do we do now,” Jefferson asks, but Henderson isn’t ready to talk yet. He leaves Jefferson standing there.

Jefferson and Lynn. After spending the first half of the episode bickering with each other, about Jennifers and her powers, about Lynn going to Gambi to ask to be put in charge of the Green Light Pod People, about the weather and everything else, they come together as a united team to try and get them and their family through these dark times.

Photo: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW 

Jefferson and Gambi. Down in Black Lightning’s lair, Gambi shows Jefferson Kara’s picture and tells him about the “briefcase in exchange for freedom from the ASA” offer she made earlier. Jefferson is shocked that Kara is involved but moves on quick enough; Gambi thinks whatever is in the briefcase is worse than they think. Also, he’s got no leads on Whale. Tobias is still off the grid, he tells Jefferson.

Photo: Quantrell D. Colbert/The CW 

Final Scenes Music Montage. In the wrap up scenes, we see Issa in a warehouse kind of room, hiding, alone. We see Lynn with the Green Light Pod People, clipboard in hand so you know she’s in charge now.  We see Anissa in her room, packing up more Robin Hood cash for the church. We see Jennifer, asleep, floating above her bed, again fully charged. And last, we see Kara, clad in unnecessary night vision goggles, enter Whale’s lair demanding the briefcase. Whale is sad face about Syonide’s death and then he “whale hooks” Fowdy in the stomach.  She cuts herself free and jumps out the fucking window before Tobias and her can really mix it up.  The ep ends as Whale is seething in barely controlled rage. Oh, these two are not done yet.

“Metas.” Interesting to note that Jefferson mentions “metas” in his conversation with Lynn. He says how either the people of Freeland, or the ASA, will soon turn on “metas” and begin hunting people with powers. I think this was the first time Jefferson used the Arrowverse phrase for powered people.

Music.  The “Think”/”It Takes Two” music mashup during the parking garage fight was lit as fuck.

In the second fight montage of the night, we get Anissa whopping ass to “Flash Light” by Parliament-Funkadelic. P Funk is always great but add a fight scene and it’s next level shit.

At the end of the episode, Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)” cues up as we get the final scenes montage.

*****

Cross Arrowverse References. There were several references in The Flash to the Legends as well as Ava and the Time Bureau.  Barry has always been one of the biggest protagonists of cross show references and appearances and seems like that isn’t changing in Season 5.

The only Arrowverse-level reference I caught in Black Lightning was the one I noted above about Jefferson’s passing reference to “metas.”

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