Crisis Management: “Crisis On Infinite Earths Parts 1-3”; Black Lightning Week 9

IT’S HERE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Somewhere in time, little Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim lay in their beds dreaming of heroes. They got their shot to tell their hero story when The CW wanted to follow up Smallville with a more grounded superhero story and landed on a Green Arrow show, that was basically a Batman show with a touch of Lost.

I don’t think when Oliver Queen became something else, they had this cold open in mind (How could they? No one could have predicted this), but it’s spectacular. The Monitor explains the explains the origin of the multiverse, and we jump to Gotham, on Earth-89, the Batsignal blares in the red sky, then it’s Earth 9, where Hawk and Robin (TITANS!) gape at the same. The Ray on Earth-X (no Citizen Cold though. Damnit!) And then Earth 66, New York City, where an aging Dick Grayson (BURT WARD) gasps, “Holy Crimson Skies Of Death.”

The Crisis has begun. I’m sitting on my couch in Montclair, New Jersey, sipping on a cup of coffee, sobbing. TV has always been my main source for the DC heroes who are my favorites. Reruns of Batman, afternoon syndication of Batman: The Animated Series, Saturday morning first run of Batman Beyond , then Smallville and then The Arrowverse.

Anyway, let’s move on to the rest of the first episode. Which is good, though, doesn’t quite live up to that spectacular opening.

Part 1 (Supergirl, Season 5, Episode 9)

Lyla as Harbinger is travelling around gathering the heroes. Before she can get to Earth-38, Kara, Alex, J’onn and Brainy try to reach out to Argo in order to warn Clark and Lois what’s about to happen. We flash to Argo where they’re playing with baby Jonathan. After the warning, Clark, Lois, and Alara (Seeing Elizabeth Tulloch and Erica Durance hug was another tearful moment!) Tyler Hoechlin continues to be amazing as Clark. The new parents and grand aunt put the baby in a pod and send him towards Earth, quoting Superman the movie. SO MANY TEARS!

The other intros work in their way, Kate shaking down a Wonderland gang member, Barry surrendering, knowing it’s time, Sara and Ray losing at bar trivia due to a time anomaly Ray created at Woodstock. (The most Legends-y intro they could possibly get.) Oliver and Mia on the beach in Lian-Yu.

They get to Earth-38 and Alex and J’onn spearhead an evacuation to Earth-1, Alex recruiting Lena to build the portal. (Will Lena see Lex? I hope so!) Meanwhile, Brainy has tracked Jon’s pod to Earth-16, Star City, the year 2046. Sara, Lois and Brainy go to get the baby, and Sara and Oliver have a moment of resolution. She assures him that their trip on The Queen’s Gambit was lifechanging and magical. Again, I cry.

On Earth 38, the heroes make their stand, fighting shadow warriors. Also Oliver gives Mia a Green Arrow suit. They don’t save Earth-38, but they do evacuate something like 3 billion people. Which is exceptional. But in the fight, Oliver is mortally wounded.

That’s right, in the first episode of Crisis On Infinite Earths, Oliver Queen, The Green Arrow, dies. It’s emotional, but I’m guessing there’s still more to think about. Anyway, I cried a lot.

The episode had a lot to do setting things up. I do wish Clark and Ray seeing each other for the first time had gotten a bit more of a beat. But I guess we’re saving that for the Kingdom Come stuff. Which I’m OK with. Seriously though, that cold open was amazing, it’s a high bar for the rest of the crossover to clear.

Part 2 (Batwoman, Season 1, Episode 9)

I mentioned in the intro that I mainly associate my DC fandom with Batman: The Animated Series and Smallville, which is how I knew this episode was going to be a lot for me. It’s also a heavy Sara episode, and includes Constantine, and Mick Rory, and an alternate Waverider where instead of Gideon, Leonard Snart is the AI.

So, I like this one.

Anyway, The Monitor tells our heroes that they need to find the paragons across the multiverse. (While Baby Jon cries.) We have two already, Kara is the paragon of hope and Sara is the paragon of destiny, they need to find a Kryptonian who is the paragon of truth, and the paragon of courage, “The Bat Of The Future.” Lois, Iris and Clark go looking for Supermen, and Kate and Kara go to find a future version of Bruce Wayne.

Meanwhile, Lex gets his hand on the book of destiny and is a step ahead of the the Super-team, trying to kill all the Supermen. When they reach The Kent Farm of Earth-167, (Smallville) that Clark is chopping wood, and Earth-38 Clark notes that he could do that with his bare hands. They tried to suss out if he’s the Supes they’re looking for, but then Lex shows up.

Clark kind of sighs loudly as Earth-38 Lex begins lecturing him about their destiny as enemies, living parallel lives, written in the stars, and then he reveals some Kryptonite which DOES NOTHING, because this Clark gave up his powers to be a dad. OF COURSE HE DID. The Clark Kent of Smallville hated being a superhero. He and Lois walk into the house, living happily ever after, which kind of sucks but is also a nice ending for them.

On Earth-96, team find the supermen, goes to the Daily Planet, where they encounter an older Clark again, this one, who looks like Ray Palmer. It’s a tremendous gift to see Brandon Routh be perfect as Superman once again, this Supes having lost everyone he ever loved to a chemical attack by The Joker. (Like Ryan Reynolds, Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill, Routh was good casting let down by a bad movie) Lex shows up and makes the two Supermen fight eachother. Once they get his head on straight they bring him back, he’s our Paragon of Truth. (Fun detail, Lois is charmed by all of the Clarks, not just hers. She gets kinda flirty with Welling and Routh.)

In Gotham of Earth-99, Kate and Kara hit Wayne Manor, where they find a shirtlesss Luke Fox and Bruce in an exo suit. (That we hear Kevin Conroy’s voice before we see him is a nice touch. We learn that is this reality, Bruce was irrevocably injured after killing Superman, and Kate tried to follow in his footsteps and was killed. Conroy is perfect, obviously, and his switch from tired cynicism to unhinged evil is pretty great. After Kara confronts Bruce, a fight ensues and Bruce dies. After returning to the Waverider it’s revealed that Kate is in fact the Paragon of Courage. I AM SHOCKED I TELL YOU! (Also on a fun note, Kara thinks Luke is cute, which Kate thinks is weird. Luke is cute, and if Kara stays on Earth-1 I could see them developing into something. Though developments elsewhere suggest the multi-verse will be destroyed.)

Speaking of Earth-1, Mia and Sara need to find a Lazarus pit because Mia is determined to resurrect Oliver, they find one on Earth-18, which is guarded by Jonah Hex, they fight him and it’s awesome, and Constantine does a spell to restore his soul, it doesn’t work, so that’ll be fun. Barry is on this errand too, but he doesn’t do much but mope.

Black Lightning: Season 3: Episode 9: “The Book of Resistance: Chapter 4: Earth Crisis”

Like Supergirl in past crossovers, Black Lighting’s role is going to be limited, and the show has always kind of done it’s own thing anyway, but they do a great job of using the trappings of Crisis, to explore their themes of family, war and the cycle of violence. Jen finds herself confronted with a red sky and goes into a coma, where she is brought to an in between place, confronted by two alternate versions of herself. Earth-1 Gen, who poisoned Freeland’s water supply to cure metas and wound up in ASA custody, and Earth-2 Jinn, who fully embraced the path that our Jen is on, becoming a living weapon for Odell.

Earth-1 is a real bummer for the Pierce family. Because of Gen’s activities, Anissa opted to stay closeted, because this Jeff is much more political and a criminal and a lesbian would be too much of a liability. (Oddly, Earth-1 Alex was closeted as well. We’re so used to Sara, Nyssa, Ava, William and Curtis, perhaps the Team Arrow is more tolerant than the rest of their world. Is Earth-1 really conservative? Captain Singh is married to a man though…but Sophie stayed closeted in the military…) Lynn and Jeff never got back together, and an ASA raid on Christmas Eve gets Jeff shot and killed.

Earth-2 tells a familiar story, Jinn actually reminds me a lot of Not-Laurel, she’s all bravado and murder to cover up her soft beating heart. Things turn so that she herself winds up killing her father, on Odell’s orders, while she recites, “Who’s life is it? What am I going to do with it?”

Our Jen tries to calm her doppelgangers and learns that she needs to stand up for herself, and that her family is the most important thing, but she doesn’t wake up in time, and the world is consumed by the Crisis, as Jeff is blinked out of existence. (My guess, he’s on the Earth-74 waverider which is currently parked on Earth-1.)

Part 3 (The Flash, Season 6, Episode 9)

I once joked but didn’t really joke that I would just watch a show that was John Diggle yelling at people. Bad guys, good guys, people who were too slow delivering food. Each episode would begin with Digg staring someone down and saying, “Now, you listen here,” and THANK GOD, his arrival on The Waverider, finding out that Oliver died and was resurrected and that Lyla was missing, lead to him yelling at both Sara and The Monitor. In fact his rant to Mornobu even began with that epic “No, you listen, I am not losing Oliver and Lyla.” (My joke was, “Now you listen here, my wife and children are hungry and we ordered this pizza 45 minutes ago with a promise that it would be in here in 30.” Said pizza guy would then retreat in tears, but Lyla and Baby Sara or JJ depending on where on the Flashpoint timeline you are, would have pizza.)

We’ll get to Diggle who inexplicably still doesn’t have a Green Lantern ring (WTF?) in a bit. We’ll start with yet another spectacular cold open, The Huntress (ASHLEY SCOTT! From the Birds Of Prey show I do not care for!) runs from an anti matter wave, talking over com to Oracle (who I did like on that show!) saying she won’t make it, she loses contact before she gets there.

Back on the Waverider, after Digg hands Sara here ass. (Metaphorically, he probably couldn’t beat her in a fight, let’s be honest here. He’s good, I love him, but he can’t beat her.) The heroes regroup, and discuss their next steps. Ray announces that the Paragon Detector is ready. HOORAY! They find out that the other paragons are Honor (J’onn), Love (Barry. BARRY AND IRIS’S LOVE OUTSHINES THE SUN!) and Humanity (Ryan Choi!) Iris, Ray and Ralph head to Ivy Town to find Ryan Choi, who immediately fanboys out on Ray. (As he’s likely to pick up the Atom Suit when Routh leaves, this is a fun intro for him)

The Monitor gives Cisco back his powers bascically because, “Your reasons are stupid, You’re Vibe.” (I agree with The Monitor and Cranky Cisco is fun!) so Cisco, Killer Frost and Barry head to find the source of the Anti-Matter Wave. (This is after Pariah and and Lyla, now infected by the Anti-Monitor fight. Poor Digg.) When they find it, they are SHOCKED, SHOCKED I say, to find The Barry Allen of Earth-90 (John Wesley Shipp!) powering the Anti-Monitor’s weapon with a cosmic treadmill. They free him but that basically activates a suicide mode. OH NO! Also appearing as if from nowhere, Jefferson Pierce! Jeff quickly freaks out that he was the only one saved. “Lynn, my daughters!” But he helps the Flashes and their friends shut down the ray, but it’s not quite enough. The Flash of Earth-90 decides to take our Barry’s speed in order to save him and run out the clock. Barry objects, strenuously, but Barry-90 does his thing, and we get a quick clip from The Flash as his story ends.

After all of this Jeff and Barry bond, talking about their fathers, their odd situations and quoting Dylan Thomas. That the surviving group of heroes view themselves as those raging against the dying of the light is wonderful. Fighting that darkness the hardest is Kara, who is considering teaming up with Lex to use the book of destiny to rebuild their Earth. Kate talks her down, telling her that she’d fight her if she needs to. The way they’re mirroring the traditional Batman/Superman relationship with these two is great, twisting to fit Kara and Kate in ways that it never quite would with Bruce and Clark. Kate eventually confesses to Kara that she’s carrying Kryptonite, which she stole from the Bruce of Earth-99, Kara says that she trusts her with it.

While all of this is happening (this episode is PACKED) Digg, Mia and Constantine go to Earth-666 and get a pass to Purgatory from Lucifer (Tom Ellis! I don’t watch Lucifer but my understanding is that I would probably like it a lot.) Turn out purgatory is Lian-Yu! Convenient! They find Oliver, Digg gives him a lecture about brotherhood and being their for eachother, and he finds himself again, but then they are confronted by Jim Corrigan, (THE SPECTRE) who explains that Oliver has to become…Something Else. (My name is Oliver Queen…)

As the Anti-Monitor succeeds in wiping out Earth-1, our paragons are taken to The Vanishing Point. (See Legends.) As they begin to get their bearings, Clark-96 begins to fall and disappear in red light, and he transforms into Lex! Kara is pissed but they have bigger fish to fry, they have to restore the universe.

And that’s it. That’s the cliff hanger, all worlds have been consumed 6 heroes and Lex Luthor have to stand.

We’re checked out until January 14. I’m really glad I managed to keep up this season, y’all. Particularly glad I reinvested in Arrow, as Mia has been a delight in the crossover.

Random Notes:

  • Lois despairs being in the middle of the greatest news story in history and not being able to report it. The Monitor nods that this is indeed quite a lot, she then asks him for his story. He gives her bits of it, and remarks that he sees why she’s the greatest.
  • The cameos were pretty wonderful. People we’ve heard might be around but we haven’t seen yet includes Lynda Carter. Welling and Durance’s scene has really grown on me and Conroy was perfection. Burt Ward kicking things off and Ashley Scott getting her due was incredible. Truly though, John Wesley Shipp & Brandon Routh owned the returns. Shipp’s history on The Flash as Henry Allen and Jay Garrick does contribute to his hitting home, and Routh getting to redeem his Superman was such a gift.
  • I continue to be worried about Jen and Khalil. I will always worry about Jen and Khalil
  • Non DC-Verse cameos include Wil Wheaton as a doomsdayer and one of the guys from The Tick, also Ryan Choi is played by Osric Chau who played Kevin Chen on Supernatural, and so now I’m going to be worried about him a lot too, because Kevin was a very worrisome character.

OK, Thanks everyone for putting up with my ramblings this half season. Thanks especially to my IRL friends and family and coworkers who nodded politely while I went through twitch fits regarding the Arrow catch up.

Whether I track the back half of the seasons is going to depend a lot on how things shake out in January. We’ll talk.

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian “Chapter 5: The Gunslinger”

Oh sure, set me up for failure episode. That is failure at ever being able to offer analysis this time around.

It’s called “The Gunslinger,” takes place on Tatooine, centers around Mando and Bobby Canavale’s son (who looks just like his dad) hunting for a dangerous sniper played by Ming-Na Wen, while Amy Sedaris and a bunch of pit droids baby sit LBY.

Of course that title just got me meditating, is Mando a Gunslinger? I don’t think he is. Ming-Na’s character is the gunslinger in question, but she’s not A Gunslinger in the Dark Tower way. And as I go back and for Mando, after all, “This is the way,” is not too far off from, “I shoot with my heart.”

This is not a sane line of thought to go down, and yet here we are. Turtles, all the way down. (Fuck that turtle though)

I love this episode. I have no other way to explain it. I thought it was wonderful, the changes in Mos Eisley since A New Hope (it’s been a decade and the ruling Mob family was blown up after all!) were fun to see. Mando’s familiarity with the planet was also neat.

And Amy Sedaris! And Ming-Na! OMG! It’s just too much goodness. The Canavale kid is good too. In terms of development, this episode didn’t do much, but it did provide us with a fun side adventure. I’m cool with this being an adventure of the week type show. We don’t get enough of them that are this good in the current landscape.

I know this post is relatively short for how these have been going, but this was a straightforward episode that I liked a lot and I doubt you all want to hear me ramble about unrelated Stephen King content, since that’s all I can think about when I think about the episode.

Also Amy Sedaris.

And pit droids.

And Ming-Na Wen.

We’re drawing closer and closer to opening weekend of The Rise Of Skywalker and I’m deeply ready for it. I’ve also decided to continue with Fangirl Loves Star Wars in some capacity as we move forwared. Season 2 of Resistance, whatever’s going on on Disney+, (New Clone Wars! I haven’t forgotten!) I’m going to do some reading of the novels. It won’t be a regular thing, but like Nerd Homework, I’ll check in occasionally!

Crisis Management: Batwoman, Supergirl, Black Lightning & The Flash Week 8; Arrow Week 7

Batwoman: Season 1: Episode 8: “A Mad Tea Party”

Things have come to a head between Kate, Jake and Alice this episode. Kate has to finally accept a few things about her sister and in the process they lose something that while strained was probably precious to them.

Alice declares she’s about to have her greatest tea party, while torturing Jake, Mouse is impersonating Jake at the moment and there’s a big fancy Gotham Gala about to hit which is honoring Katherine. Kate is refusing to go, despite Mary’s urging that they’re still a family.

Poor Mary.

ANYWAY, Alice captures Mary and Katherine at the gala and forces them to drink poisoned champagne which leads to Katherine’s death after confessing that she was trying to spare Kate and Jake pain, by faking Beth’s death confirmation. Mary is devesated, and through Mouse’s machinations, Jake is imprisoned. Kate assures her father that she’s done believing in Alice. Beth is gone, in her place just a monster.

Batwoman kick copious ass in this episode, but it’s not a real Kate focused one. Sophie and her bland husband who’s gonna die anyway (he can hang out with Tommy and Eddie, it’ll be fine) come to an understanding that Sophie needs to decide where she stands re: Kate before they can move forward.

I’m grateful that they seem to be coding Sophie as bi or pan, rather than a closeted lesbian. It’s a frankly refreshing take on a pretty bland love triangle. (Revenge also did this well.) (Watch Revenge) I am otherwise unenthused by anything involving Sophie and hope once the universes consolidate Kate and Alex Danvers can get something going. Or Kate and Nyssa Al-Ghul. Or Kate and Ava. Or Kate and Sara. Look, there are tons of badass AWESOME queer ladies to pair with Kate in this universe is my point. We don’t need Sophie who’s kinda blech.

Supergirl: Season 5: Episode 8: “The Wrath of Rama Khan”

Rama Khan (Mitch Pileggi) is ready to use the alignment of the planets to create a new Pompei. Kara needs to stop him. Meanwhile, Lena is going to use Myriad to do something? Stop people from being evil? I’m really not sure what Lena’s plan here is. But whatever, Kara stops both of them.

Alex, being the voice of reason, explains to Kara that Lena’s being a bit of a hypocrite here. Lena didn’t tell them about Reign, Lena didn’t tell them about any of her work. She keeps secrets too. I’m with Alex. The Lena/Team Supes trust loop has never really existed. Kara however, still wants to help her friend. She does, but Lena just takes it as an L.

Helping defeat Lena, is Mala’fa’ak. He uses his ability to incept to cancel out Myriad. It works! J’onn sends him back to Mars to help M’gann in the fight. The brothers part as friends. THEN! The monitor shows up and tells J’onn he passed his test. Hooray! J’onn is basically like “DAFUQ?” But understands something is about to happen. The Monitor walks into a pocket dimension where he is keeping Lex, who he assures him will soon be a hero!

I’m SO GODDAMNED excited for more of Jon Cryer’s Lex, who surprised me so much last year. He’s not Michael Rosenbaum who is my favorite, but he’s quite good. Also Rama Khan is killed by his partner and Andrea dies to I think? Anyway, that’s where we’ll pick up in January.

Black Lightning: Season 3: Episode 8: “The Book of Resistance: Chapter 3: Pale Horse”

Lynn falls.

She’s agreed to help Tobias to take down the ASA. While I get why she’s doing it, her marriage with Jeff already being strained, I don’t know how it will survive this. She agrees to give him more powers to help him escape. Terrible plan Lynn.

Jeff, Henderson and Anissa take a stand trying to keep the apartment building where Jeff and Henderson grew up from becoming the ASA’s quarters for soldiers. Seeing Black Lightning and Thunder standing together again really warmed my heart. They win, and push back the ASA, but there will undoubtably be consequences here.

Jen and Brandon do some research into Doctor Jace, finding out she’s no longer in Freeland. Brandon is furious and nearly explodes them. Jen agrees to help him get a read on his powers, explaining that they have to funnel their anger rather than simply lash out, as she did in her grief for Khalil. (Metaphors abound on this show but that’s a pretty clear one for anger to justice conversion.)

Speaking of Khalil, he’s deployed against Anissa and it throws her. This Week’s Worrying About Jen & Khalil meter is about a 6. They’re status quo right now, still in danger, they’re always in danger but nothing new. In fact, Anissa knowing about Khalil lowers my worry about him meter significantly.

Gambi and a pod kid who’s a technopath and goes by T.C. use an old radio station to blast out the message to the general public what’s actually going on in Freeland. We shall see in the new year what that means.

The Flash: Season 6: Episode 8: “The Last Temptation of Barry Allen Part 2”

Ramsey reveals his plan to “Cure” all of hummanity using the particle accelerator and The Flash as his crux. Meanwhile the whole team decides they need to get Barry back so he can die properly. Or something.

Look, there’s a lot of running around in this episode a lot of “who’s really talking here?” And, well, Nash finds his way to The Monitor’s lair. Or something. I think Nash might actually be chasing the Anti-Monitor, thinking that it’s the Monitor, but I could be wrong.

The fact is, after how great “Part 1” was, this was kind of a let down. I love that the team is still refusing to give in to Barry’s death. Again, because Barry ain’t gonna die. Oliver is. Probably.

Arrow: Season 8: Episode 7: “Purgatory”

Oh boy! Oh boy you guys! Chrissy and I used to joke about Lian-Yu being The Island from Lost, because we thought it was funny. (Also, you can’t tell me that Arrow’s flashback structure wasn’t a straight rip off!) And oh boy, did this episode feel a lot like an episode of Lost, but in a good way.

Oliver has to come to grips with what Lian-Yu did to him and for him for the zillionth time, but again, this season being the victory lap and having the added zip of Mia and William makes it all hit harder. I really am all in for Green Arrow And The Canaries especially if William is going to be around.

Oliver makes Diggle promise to keep Mia and William together after he’s gone so that’s really nice. Also he finally lets Oliver go, knowing he can’t always be by his side. Roy loses an arm and notes that it was worth it, because he feels connected to something again. think it’s worth it because even if it’s only for a few episodes I am here for Roy Harper’s Robot Arm.

Digg and Lyla are having a bit of a time. Their marriage has always been an interesting balance given their work. Now that she’s gone all in on The Monitor, he’s not so into the way things are going. I don’t really blame him for that. Lyla eventually disappears and comes back as Harbinger.

I actually think that she’s an excellent pick for this role and I can’t wait for next week.

YOU GUYS NEXT WEEK IS CRISIS (PART 1) I’m so excited! Are you excited? Get excited! Kevin Conroy! The return of Routh and Welling! OOOHHHH BOY!

In The Shadow Of Adaptation: His Dark Materials

I didn’t read His Dark Materials as a kid or teenager. It’s not likely because it wasn’t allowed, as a lot of people have assumed, when the movie came along my mom was warned about it and when parents asked her she shrugged and said, “if your kids and their faith can’t accept some philosophical challenge brought on by some fantasy fiction I’m not doing my job right.”

I’ve mentioned my specific and peculiar theological education before, stemming from my mother’s faith, my family’s legacy of Jesuit instruction and philosophical bent, my progressive all girl’s Catholic high school and reading constantly. So that’s the background that I brought to His Darks Materials when I read it in my 20’s. I loved the books, diving headlong into Lyra’s world like I did with most fantasy fiction.

At the time I was much more devout so the heresy felt more shocking and I’m sure in my even more devout than that I would have dismissed the whole thing outright. Reading the books again now, where I use Catholicism still as my main barometer of the divine, that is, it’s the way I know how to interpret God, The Universe or Whatever, so it’s the tool set that I use, I find the books a beautiful exploration of another way.

Philip Pullman would hate that of course, he’s a strident outspoken atheist of the “anyone who believes in the divine in a ninkompoop” stripe, but you know, that’s fine. If I weren’t a Catholic, Secular Humanism would be the philosophy that makes the most sense to me. To articulate it as Joss Whedon did, “If nothing we do matters, the only thing that matters is what we do.”

Anyway, the books are amazing and I’m glad I revisited them. HBO & The BBC’s joint venture on adapting them has yet to fully win me over. I get what they’re doing and like the approach. Rather than the pretty glittering world of the reasonably awful film The Golden Compass (an impeccably cast but misguided movie) His Dark Materials feels lived in and old, a little dreary in some ways, but mysterious and beautiful in others. I like the cast, Ruth Wilson is appropriately terrifying and mesmerizing as Mrs. Coulter, and Daphne Keene was pretty much born to play Lyra. (My favorite aspects of the story, world hopping and angels don’t enter the proceedings until book 2 which means I’m a year out from the things I like best in the series, including Will Parry, my favorite character.) Note: I wrote this before I watched last night’s episode. Obviously, we now have Will. HOORAY!

I’m looking forward to seeing how the show moves forward. We’ve finally met Iorek Byninson and Lee Scorcesby. (LIN MANUEL MIRANDA!) That really gets the story moving a bit more. There is a lot of world building in this series that has to get out of the way but it felt endlesss.

My difficulties with a lot of atheist material is certainty. Again, Jesuits, we don’t like certainty. Life is questions, unending questions, meant to be answered through study, meditation, prayer, discussion and debate. What I love about His Dark Materials is that Pullman is championing those very things, he reached different conclusions than I have in my life. And that’s deeply worthwhile.

I’ll probably do one more “In The Shadow Of Adaptation” this year. I bet you can guess what is. But for the moment, I’m finishing up the last five books in my Goodreads Challenge. Love you all!

Fangirl Loves Star Wars: The Mandolorian “Chapter 4: Sanctuary”

If there is a single individual artist that we should thank for inspiring George Lucas to create Star Wars is it probably Akira Kurosawa. I mean, we shouldn’t because it was a whole world of things that contributed to the building of our beloved galaxy far far away, but to subtract The Lost Fortress from the DNA would be taking out a lot.

So I kind of figured a Seven Samurai homage was likely in The Mandolorian, since the show is playing with Western Tropes and it’s been remade (TWICE) as The Magnificent Seven. Our Mando touches down on a planet, hoping to wait out some of the heat on him and Baby Yoda (I’ve been listening to Bingeworthy’s Star Wars series and they’re calling him LBY, we’re adopting that same nomenclature.) go into town and find Cara Dune, a former Shock Trooper who’s abandoned the New Republic and is trying to wait out some heat on her own. Mando concedes they both probably shouldn’t do that and prepares to move along.

However, some villagers ask him for help, they’re krill farmers and some imperial tech is ravaging their village. Mando agrees to help and recruits Cara as well. They train the villagers, they beat the bad guy and Mando has a broody flirtation with a pretty young widow. Also, the village children all obsess about LBY. Mando makes up his mind to leave LBY to grow up peacefully in the village, but as we must remember, The Heat Is On. A bounty hunter finds them and he realizes the closest to safe for The Kid is with him. AWWW.

Anyway, they’re off on an adventure again. LBY remains a wonderful beautiful pure presence on my TV. Pedro Pascal is doing really excellent work as The Mandolorian, and Gina Carrano made a really cool addition as Cara Dune.

So hey, we got more women with lines this week. That’s good. Also, Bryce Dallas Howard directed this episode. That’s super good. Last week’s episode was directed bed Deborah Chow, who will be running the Obi-Wan show. Since last week’s episode was my favorite so far, that bodes well.

I liked this episode, and I like what the show is doing.

Also, I will continue to lobby for a Baby Yoda plushie until I am holding one as I write these reviews.

Now seems as good a time as any to talk about what is going to go into this slot in 2020! Hooray!

We’re going to keep going with Disney+ and I’m going to watch all of the Disney Animation Studios Films, in order. So, Snow White to Frozen 2. (Which I’ll be reviewing this week.) I’m excited for this project. There’s some stuff in the 70s and 80s which I don’t think I’ve seen at all, and certainly not since I was a kid. But we’re still a few weeks from getting that going!

Crisis Management: Black Lightning & The Flash Week 7, Arrow Week 6

We’re so close now. This is a light week. (No Supergirl or Batwoman.) I hope everyone is having a great Thanksgiving! Let’s get into it.

Black Lightning: Season 3: Episode 7: “The Book Of Resistance: Henderson’s Opus”

Police Chief Henderson is an interesting character for Black Lightning, because he’s not an antagonist, he’s not on a parallel track and yet he compliments Jefferson Pierce and Black Lightning so well. These are two men with history, and Cress Williams and Damon Gupton do exceptional work walking the line between resentment and friendship whenever they interact and the explosion of that int his episode is something to behold.

Henderson plants a car bomb that he intends to detenate on the ASA after he smuggles out some teenage metas. The bomb is then diffused by Black Lightning. He confronts Jeff about it and they trade MLK quotes and decide they have to go their separate ways. It’s breathtaking.

Jen and New Kid (who is as I noted last week, is disappointingly not Virgil Hawkins. PULL THAT TRIGGER YOU COWARDS) realize their powers are complimentary and it’s really cool. They’re still in a will they or won’t they fight pattern, but I like them together, if only Jen weren’t still hung up on…

Khalil. Poor, brainwashed, absolutely terrifying Khalil. Lynn and Gambi find him at The Pit and Lynn decides she needs to save him. She learns all of his memories are still there she just needs to access them. (Reenie’s “Worried About Jen and Khalil Meter This Week Is a Solid 7, they both seem physically safe at the moment, but they’re in tough spots)

Anissa is still healing, so she asks he father to take over her escort duties on The Underground Railroad. This includes smuggling Grace, who is stuck in her terrified teen persona. They say their goodbyes and by completing the mission Black Lightning has regained some of the trust of the community. Yay!

The Flash: Season 6: Episode 7: “The Last Temptation Of Barry Allen: Part 1”

This is an exceptionally good and creepy episode of The Flash. After being attacked by Bloodwork last week, Ralph is needs a transfusion of Speed Force blood, so Barry donates. It seems to work, but then Barry winds up in a coma.

Barry comas are great. While in the coma, he communes with The Speed Force in it’s Barry’s Mom form, he is also tempted by “The Devil” who looks a lot like Ramsey Russo. There’s a terrifying Thanksgiving meal with a bloody Lasagna. Seriously this scene is creepy and gross and AMAZING. Next Ramsey shows Barry all the people who have died because he’s the Flash, ending with himself, and then the life he could have if (when) he survives the Crisis. It’s a good life. Life with Iris and Nora, his friends happy. Ramsey says he can give him this.

Barry doesn’t waver until the Speed Force pops up again, then he loses it on her. Tells her he hates his random fate, he’s done. Look, I’m a Catholic with a literature degree. I attended Religious instruction my entire life and Catholic High School and Jesuit University. I love a good biblical allusion in my fiction. (emphasis on good. There are plenty of bad ones) This episode is named for one of the BEST literary depictions of Jesus’s humanity of all time, in my opinion. Last Temptation is controversial but it’s also beautiful and faith affirming. Even if I didn’t know that movie inside and out, the nature of my education and personal experience means I can spot Christology metaphors a mile away. Barry’s, “Let this cup pass me,” moment is perfectly in line with his journey on this particular tropey axis. It’s about his life, the people he loves and in acceptance, about his fate as The Flash. I liked this scene a lot. “Not as I will, but as you will.”

Anyway, Barry wakes up and it turns out, he was infected by Bloodwork, OH NOES! But this is part 1, we’ll see what happens in Part 2.

Arrow Season 8 Episode 6: “

This was a good episode. I was happy to see Paul Blackthorne again. I’m always happy to see Paul Blackthorne as Quentin Lance. But let’s be honest, The Arrowverse shouldn’t touch the Groundhog Day concept again since they perfected it on Legends with the insanely good, “Here I Go Again.”

Oliver and Laurel have to learn a lesson about how fate is unavoidable. So, The Monitor sticks them in a time loop alternate universe where Quentin lived and they try to save him one last time, over and over again. When they learn that they just can’t, they can’t save everyone, Lyla on The Monitor’s behalf let’s them out.

It’s a straightforward episode that absolutely made me cry. (Because Paul Blackthorn) but nothing really special, and again, the Arrowverse already perfected the Groundhog day episode.

When Laurel and Ollie accept the inevitable, they exit a tent and it turns out the whole team is on Lian-Yu….YESSSSSSSS!

I hope everyone is having a nice Thanksgiving. I’m probably at my Aunt Mary’s house while your reading this and my brother, cousin and I are likely arguing about how Watchmen is going to turn out.

 

Thanksgiving Prep – TV Time

Happy Thanksgiving Eve, Y’all! Since tomorrow, despite the holiday, is still going to be Crisis Management and Marina day, (Have you noticed The Marina Chronicle is back! Because it is! Hooray for beating writers block!) I decided today would be when I chronicle my favorite pre Thanksgiving tradition.

I watch my favorite Thanksgving episodes of TV shows that I love.

The West Wing – “Shibboleth”

This is the single greatest 45 minutes of Thanksgiving content to ever air on TV. Ever. President Bartlett has to pardon a Turkey, but also a bunch of Chinese refugees who fled claiming they are persecuted Christians.  It’s stunningly good TV, and I watch it every year. (I also usually watch the Season 3 Thanksgiving episode “The Indians In the Lobby,” but it’s less essential and this list has gotten long.) (I did watch it though)

Friends – “The One With All The Thanksgivings”

The episode where they flashback to those college Thanksgiving in the Gellar household that point towards the inevitability of Chandler and Monica. Aside from being hilarious and featuring several characters putting a Turkey on their head, I’ll never love Friends more than these seasons, where Chandler and Monica were falling in love.

Gossip Girl – “Blair Waldorf Must Pie”

This episode is Gossip Girl’s greatest hits all in one. Revelations of secrets in the past. Blair having angnst about her parents, and Chuck, and Nate. Nate and Serena looking at each other longingly. Dan and Jenny trying to preserve their bohemian Brooklyn roots while fitting in with their new friends. Lily and Rufus drama. Everything. It was also the first episode I ever watched, so it holds a special place in my heart.

The OC – “The Homecoming”

Ryan goes back to Chino for Thanksgiving to visit Trey in jail. Trey asks him to return a stolen car. He and Marissa get in a car chase and we meet Theresa! Meanwhile, back in Newport, Sandy and Seth try to keep Kirsten from cooking, Kirsten tries to set Jimmy up with Sandy’s coworker. It’s a fun episode that again, like the Gossip Girl on this list is everything the show does well. (It’s not the top Holiday episode of Season 1, which is of course “Chrismakkuh”)

New Girl – “Parents”

Jess “Parent Traps” her parents, played by Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis. It works, in that they definitely bang but do not get back together. Meanwhile, Nick and Jess’s dad bond, Scmidt and Cece do some stuff, and Winston continues his march into total madness.

Crazy Ex Girlfriend – “My First Thanksgiving With Josh”

Oh boy, I love this episode. It’s not my favorite Crazy Ex, but it’s up there. Including all time great songs, “I Give Good Parent” and “What’ll It Be” plus some excellent bathroom humor and Valencia realness.

Brooklyn 99 – “Two Turkeys”

There are a few great Brooklyn 99 Thanksgiving episodes, but this is my favorite, when Jake and Amy try to bring their parents together for the Holiday. It doesn’t go well, but it’s really fun anyway. Plus it’s a low level West Wing reunion. (Bradley Witford and Jimmy Smits) and a low level Sons Of Anarchy reunion (Katey Sagal and Jimmy Smits) Also, you know, Jimmy Smits!

How I Met Your Mother – “Slapsgiving”

“Slapsgiving” is not only on my list of great Thanksgiving episodes. It’s also on my list of perfect episodes of television and probably my second favorite “HIMYM” episodes (after “The Pineapple Incident”) it uses the show’s conceit about storytelling and unreliable narrators perfectly and introduces the “General Knowledge” bit, includes the Slap Bet and the song “You Just Got Slapped”enters the proceedings.

Happy Turkey Day, dear friends. I love you and am Thankful for each and every one of you. We’ve got a crowded December. (Last burst of movie season! Favorites Lists! The Fangirl Airing of Grievances!)