Friday, February 16, 2018

It's All You Can Do

Whew! It's been quite a year so far here in America. We're only halfway into February, and already there've been EIGHT school shootings in which a student was injured or killed. 

I realize how hard it is for our politicians in Washington and the country's Facebook users to constantly have to post their heartfelt responses to these constant tragic events, so I've come to the rescue. Below is my patented new Post School Shooting Thoughts And Prayers Generator! 

Just click one or both of the buttons to express your feelings, hit the submit button and Presto! You're done! It's so easy, it's as if you've done nothing at all!
Post School Shooting Thoughts And Prayers Generator
 Sending thoughts and prayers to the families and loved ones of the victims of this tragic event.

 Now is not the time to discuss meaningful gun control legislation.

That's it! You've literally done all you can do.

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 5, Episode 5: Rewind

This week on Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., we turn our attention from the future to see what Fitz has been up to in the past. Er, I mean the present.

Oddly enough, this is the first episode I've actually liked so far this season. That probably has something to do with the fact that it's set entirely on Earth (except for the last thirty seconds), and not in a miserable, dystopian space future.

We also see that Fitz is still suffering PSTD from his experience in the Framework. At first I was thinking, "Jesus, is he still going on about that? Get over it, already!" But then I realized that even though the Framework story happened months and months ago for the audience, it was just a day or so ago for Fitz! Sometimes it's hard to be aware of the timeline when there's so much time between seasons.

The Plot:
We flash back to the beginning of the season, as the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents gather in a diner for some rare downtime. Suddenly the lights go out and a Man In Black enters, accompanied by armed goons. The agents raise their hands and surrender. Just then the lights come back on, and everyone's gone except for Fitz. As he looks around in confusion, a squad of soldiers arrives and hauls him off.

Cut to Fitz in an interrogation room inside an undisclosed military facility. He's being questioned by Lieutenants Evans and Lucas, who ask where the other agents are and how he made them disappear. He tells them over and over he doesn't know, and finally demands to know who's in charge. The grim and icy General Hale enters, and tells Fitz he'd better cooperate or else he'll spend the rest of his life in a military cell. He's then thrown into a military cell.

Some time later, soldiers burst into Fitz's cell in the middle of the night and drag him out. He's hooked up to a lie detector and interrogated by Evans and Lucas. The detector confirms he's telling the truth, and Fitz offers to help the military find his fellow agents.

General Hale agrees to let Fitz help. He's given all the books he needs, plus a TV so he can watch soccer (aka football). Through the power of a montage, Fitz works on various theories as he tries to figure out what happened. He also talks his captors into letting him mail letters to his favorite soccer fanzine. Amazingly, the Lieutenants agree and send the letters.

After six months of this, Fitz comes to the conclusion that the agents were abducted by aliens. This doesn't sit well with the military, who don't believe him and think he's stalling. A very irate General Hale orders all Fitz's perks be taken away from him. Just then Fitz's attorney— who's really former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Lance Hunter— arrives.

Hunter orders the military out of the room so he can speak with his "client" in private. Apparently Fitz's soccer letters were actually coded messages, asking Hunter for help. Fitz asks Hunter how he plans on breaking him out of prison. Just then a wall explodes, and the two hurriedly run out of the cell. Outside they see a chopper approaching, and Hunter says it's their ride. Unfortunately the pilot, named Rusty, has no idea what he's doing and ends up crashing the chopper. 

Luckily Hunter has a Plan B, and he and Fitz escape in an old motor home. The military tracks the camper, but General Hale orders her men not to engage, as Fitz could lead them to the other agents.

Fitz discovers the camper's full of hi-tech equipment, and uses it to examine security footage of the diner disappearance. He notes that the agents were hauled off in a delivery truck that somehow eludes the cameras. He spots similar trucks in the area, but they all have different markings. Eventually he figures out that the truck had sophisticated camouflaging tech that could change its appearance. He's then able to track the truck to a suburban home.

Fitz and Hunter burst into the home, which is occupied by the Observer, er, I mean Man In Black, er, I mean Mysterious Man who abducted the agents from the diner. Fitz demands to know what's going on. The Man introduces himself as Enoch, and says he's a sentient Chronicom (whatever that is) from a planet orbiting a star in the constellation of Cygnus. He was sent here 30,000 years ago to observe humanity. He says he sent the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to the year 2091, in order to fulfill a prophesy.

Fitz and Hunter are skeptical, so Enoch shows them security footage of the agents being engulfed by a Monlith. This convinces Fitz, and he demands to know why he wasn't sent along with the others. Enoch says it's because the "Seer" decreed he wasn't part of the plan. Fitz insists that Enoch send him to the future immediately. Unfortunately Enoch says that's impossible, as he doesn't control the Monolith— he just knew when it would activate. He says the only one who knows when it will open again is the Seer. Fitz threatens Enoch and demands to be taken to the Seer.

Enoch takes Fitz and Hunter to a nearby park, where they see Polly Hinton and her daughter Robin. They're the wife and child of the late Charles Hinton, an Inhuman with the ability to see the future, who we last saw in the Season 3 episode Spacetime. Robin is also an Inhuman— one who rarely speaks, as she prefers to draw her visions of the future. Fitz introduces himself and looks through the various drawings Robin's made. One of them shows the Earth splitting in half.

Suddenly Robin speaks up and alerts Fitz and the others to a squad of soldiers approaching. Enoch hands out earplugs to everyone (including Polly and Robin) and activates a device. The soldiers, led by Evans and Lucas, suddenly stop in their tracks as Fitz and his group seemingly disappear. Lucas looks at his watch and notes that they just lost a half hour of time.

Enoch takes the group to a remote lighthouse near Lake Ontario— the same one we saw in the postcard back at the beginning of the season in Orientation Part 1 & 2. They take an elevator to a deep underground chamber, where Enoch says they'll be safe. When questioned, he admits he doesn't know who built the chamber or how long it's been there. Hunter asks why Enoch's helping them when he's just supposed to observe. He says he's allowed to interfere when it's to prevent an extinction level event, which doesn't sound the least bit ominous.

Fitz sees Robin drawing up a storm again, and asks her why she left him off the "future" list. She actually deigns to speak, saying she had him stay behind because her has to save the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. Fitz and Hunter discuss how they can reach the others. Fitz doesn't see any way to help, as he'll be dead by the time 2091 rolls around.

Enoch tells Fitz he may have a solution. He arrived on Earth in a capsule, which Fitz might be able to use to get to the future. Unfortunately the capsule's inside Blue Raven Ridge— the very facility they just broke out of. Fitz says there's nothing for it, and decides to break back in.

Fitz & Hunter show up at the Blue Raven Ridge gate, disguised as contractors. They tell the guard they're there to repair the wall that Hunter damaged during the escape. Fortunately a friend of Hunter's hacked into the military computers and forged their orders, so the guard lets them pass.

Inside they put on military uniforms, create a distraction and sneak into a warehouse. They easily find Enoch's capsule inside a crate. Hunter wonders how they're gonna lug the heavy capsule back to their truck without being seen. Fitz gasps, and says they won't be needing a truck. Hunter turns and sees Zephyr One's being stored inside the vast warehouse.

They drag the capsule into the Zephyr's hold. A group of soldiers arrive, and Fitz fights them off with ICEers while Hunter fires up the ship and flies out of the hangar (which apparently has a retractable roof). They zoom off toward the lighthouse.

Cut to General Hale, who debriefs Lieutenants Evans and Lucas. She says she's disappointed with their failure, and brutally shoots them both in the head! Jesus Christ!

At the lighthouse, Fitz stashes a bunch of gear into a small chamber in a wall. When Hunter asks what he's doing, he says he's prepping for when he wakes up. Hunter realizes the capsule is actually a cryo-sleep chamber, and Fitz is going to be frozen for seventy years or so. He tries to talk Fitz out of it, but it's no use. Hunter says he and Mockingbird will take care of Polly and Robin. Enoch summons a Chronicon vessel, and says he'll place the cryo-chamber in it and keep Fitz safely in orbit around a distant planet until he wakes.

Cut to seventy four years later. The chamber's timer goes off, and Fitz wakes up in 2091. Enoch's there waiting for him, looking exactly as he did in 2017. He says while Fitz was out, he came up with a plan...


• There're a lot of callbacks in this episode, so here's a quick refresher:

Even though the whole Framework story arc seems like years ago to us, only a few days have passed for the characters. That's why Fitz is still freaked out by the fact that he was an evil, murderous mad scientist inside the Framework.

Fitz killed Jeffrey Mace inside the Framework, which made his body die in the real world. So technically, Fitz is guilty of his murder.

AIDA created a LMD of Daisy, which shot General Talbot in the head. The government thinks the REAL Daisy shot him, which is why they're after S.H.I.E.L.D.
A while back Daisy encountered an Inhuman named Charles Hinton, who could see how a person would die after touching them. He had a wife named Polly, and a daughter named Robin. Charles ended up dying, and Daisy vowed to take care of his family. This week we see that Robin is an Inhuman as well, with the ability to draw pictures of the future.

I think that catches us up!

• I guess I'm a bit slow— I just now realized why the space station in 2091 is called "The Lighthouse." Because it's actually the mysterious, underground bunker we see in this episode. The one located under the lighthouse in Lake Ontario, which was apparently blasted in one piece into space when Daisy destroyed the world. 

That doesn't explain why so many people were apparently living inside it when the world ended though. Maybe Hunter, knowing what was coming, invited as many people as possible into it?

• Fitz keeps track of how long he's in his cell by drawing monkey faces on the wall. Whaaa????

Apparently everyone on the planet's forgotten how to make proper hash tags— you know, four vertical lines crossed with a fifth diagonal one, to quickly indicate groups of five.

Barry Allen didn't know how to do this a couple weeks ago over on The Flash in The Elongated Knight Rises, as he marked his time in prison with five consecutive lines.

Rey did the same thing (to an even more ridiculous degree) in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Four lines crossed by a fifth. It's not that hard, people!

• Fitz asks Lt. Evans if she'll mail his letter to Ballbuster Hooligans, his favorite soccer fanzine. Later Evans asks General Hale about it, saying, "It's a letter to a soccer fanzine. The least offensive part is when he calls the goalkeeper a Cro-Magnon Twit." Amazingly, General Hale approves sending the letter, saying, "Redact his name. Have it analyzed by our code-breakers. It'll keep him happy."

I don't think so. There's no way in hell a hard-ass like Hale would have approved sending out the letters of a man she's holding in a secret military prison. After all, she's not above murdering her own people when they disappoint her! So why the hell would she accommodate a prisoner request? But if she didn't, then Hunter wouldn't have seen them and rescued Fitz, and then the plot couldn't have happened, so...

• Hunter's finally back this week! Even though he and Mockingbird were discommendated or whatever they called it, and were never supposed to associate with any S.H.I.E.L.D. agents ever again. Best of all, this is the REAL Hunter! He's not an LMD or a Framework construct.

Funny how we only see Hunter though, and not Mockingbird. Why, if I didn't know better, I'd think she was off serving as second officer onboard a Union ship in the year 2419!

• Once Fitz & Hunter are reunited, they have the following conversation:

Fitz: "Hey, uh, where are we?"

Hunter: "You're in a secure military installation. One of those "doesn't exist" places. But the law's the law, so they had to let me in."

Yeah, that seems unlikely. This is a secret military prison. The military sends people there when they want them to "disappear" forever. There's no way in hell General Hale would let herself be railroaded by flowery rhetoric from an attorney and let him in to see Fitz. Heck, she'd probably shoot Hunter in the head for knowing Fitz was even being held there!

I understand the plot couldn't proceed unless this happened, but... it's still pretty unrealistic.

• When Fitz examines the security footage, he sees the Agents were abducted by a Benderry Ale truck. That's the brand Hunter and Mockingbird were drinking when they were discommendated back in Parting Shot.

• When Enoch first appeared at the beginning of the season in Orientation Part 1, I said he looked exactly like one of the Observers from FringeWelp, I wasn't wrong! This week when Fitz asks Enoch who or what he is, he says, "I was sent here 30,000 years ago to observe and record the evolution of your species. What you would call an anthropologist."

See? An Observer!

Seriously, virtually everything about Enoch and the Observers is identical. Both are thin and bald. Both wear generic black suits & ties. Both have an affinity for unusual foods— in Enoch's case it's coconut water, and heavily seasoned raw meat for the Observers. The only notable differences are that Enoch appears to be wearing a human skin suit, while the Observers lacked eyebrows.

Honestly I'm wondering how Marvel's getting away with this, and why Fox hasn't sued them over this character. Maybe there's no point, since Disney's actively trying to assimilated Fox, just like the Borg.

Some fans have suggested Enoch is actually a budget-friendly Recorder, a character from Marvel comics. They travel the galaxy recording and documenting important events for their builders, the alien Rigellians. Recorders first appeared way back in 1966 in Thor #132.

I guess it's possible Enoch's a Recorder, since it sounds like he's doing exactly what they were made for, but eh... I don't think he is. If we was a Recorder, why not just say so? Why say he was sent to observe instead of record?

• I can't remember if any of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents have mentioned what year they're in. For the record, in this episode Enoch says they were sent to the year 2091.

• After meeting Enoch, Fitz asks why he didn't send him to the future as well. Enoch replies, "You weren't part of the Seer's prophecy, Mr. Fitz."

Note to the Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. writers— you need to find a different way to word that line. It probably looks OK on the printed page, but in dialogue it sounds like the characters are saying "Sears."

• Fitz takes a look at one of Robin's prophesy drawings, which appear to show two ominous looking aliens threatening... Daisy and May? It's not really clear. It's also not clear who the black-clad aliens are. They don't have blue faces, so they're probably not supposed to be Kree. Are they a race we've not seen yet?

• This is some heavy duty nitpicking, but whatever. This week Fitz and the others travel to a plot-important lighthouse on the shore of Lake Ontario (which eventually becomes the orbiting Lighthouse space station in the future). 

When I first saw this, I wondered if there are really any lighthouses on lake shores. Aren't they usually a seaside thing? They're to keep large, ocean-going ships from crashing into shore, right? Are there a lot of those sailing around in lakes?

So I googled "lakeside lighthouses," and sure enough, they actually exist! In fact there are a number of them around Lake Michigan. Color me surprised.

• Fitz & Hunter break back into Blue Raven Ridge to recover Enoch's capsule. At the main gate, Hunter tells the guard their names are Rusty Peltzer and Jimmy Futterman.

I think that might be a Gremlins reference, but I'm not sure. In the movie there're two characters named Billy Peltzer and Murray Futterman.

• Fitz and Hunter search the military warehouse for Enoch's space capsule. As they poke around, there's a very familiar looking crate at the top of the frame...

The crate looks a lot like the one that housed the Ark Of The Covenant. I guess after those "Top Men" studied the Ark, they stashed it inside Blue Raven Ridge! Oh, Disney! You're so funny!

• I'm assuming the military warehouse must have had a retractable roof, since it didn't look like the Zephyr One smashed through it in order to escape.

• Once Enoch's capsule is recovered, Fitz climbs in and is flash-frozen for seventy years or so. You know, I feel like I've seen something like this before, but I can't quite figure out where...

Oh yeah. Now I remember!

• As Fitz climbs into the capsule, Hunter tells him goodbye by saying, "I love you." Fitz replies with the only acceptable response, saying, "I know."

I get the Empire Strikes Back reference, but all through the episode Fitz and Hunter seem like long lost pals. Were they ever friendly back when Hunter was still on the show? Maybe it's just my faulty memory, but I don't remember them ever talking to one another much.

• At the end of the episode, General Hale decides she's tired of Evans and Lucas' constant failures, so she coldly and brutally shoots 'em both in the head. Yikes! Talk about a bad boss!

Confession time— when I was a kid, I'd occasionally watch TV shows in which a boss told an employee they were fired. In my little tiny tot mind, THIS is what I thought that meant! I honestly thought "fired" meant killed!

This Week's Best Lines:
Hunter: (as he starts the rundown motor home) "Now, Rusty kitted this thing out with all sorts of bells and whistles."
(engine backfires)
Fitz: "Is one of those bells an engine?"
(engine finally starts) 
Hunter: "There we go."
(engine belches a huge cloud of smoke) 
Hunter: "See? It's even got cloaking."

Fitz: "How are things with Bobbi?"
Hunter: "Good. Yeah. We're 100% compatible 50% of the time."

Fitz: "Release the ferrets.”

Hunter: "They're stuck 70-odd years in the future, and our world's about to end. The odds, my friend, are not in your favor."
(I guess since Mack's not in this episode, someone has to handle the pop culture references)

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Legends Of Tomorrow Season 3, Episode 10: Daddy Darhkest

Legends Of Tomorrow is finally back from its mid-season break! Huzzah! Unfortunately it seems like the series picked the worst possible time to return— smack dab in the middle of the Winter Freakin' Olympics! Whose idea was that!? I'll bet the ratings are gonna be brutal this week!

Anyway, this week the show takes a horror-themed detour, as fan-favorite character John Constantine drops by for a visit. 

For the record, this makes his third appearance on The CW since his NBC series was cancelled back in 2015. He first appeared on Arrow in the Season 4 episode Haunted, and most recently popped up on Legends in Beebo, The God Of War.

It's interesting to see Constantine living on in these other series. Has that ever happened before? Has a TV character from a canceled series ever jumped networks and guest-starred on other shows? I can't think of any examples offhand. Supergirl switched from CBS to The CW, but that's not quite the same thing.

If nothing else, this episode did quite a bit of legwork to set up the endgame, as we find out Mallus, the disembodied threat who's been a sinister presence all season, is actually a powerful supernatural demon. This week we're also introduced to the concept of The Six, a group of totem-bearers who will no doubt play a big role in taking down Mallus.

This episode also gives us some much-needed insight into Nora Darhk, showing us her tragic (and confusing) backstory. I have a feeling the connection she makes with Zari this week will end up becoming very important in the season finale, and may even cause her to turn against her monstrous father. 

Daddy Darhkest definitely felt like a Discount Episode, as the script seemed to go out of its way to NOT show anyone using their powers. We got a couple shots of Kuasa using her watery powers, and Steel (?) shooting her with Cold's freeze gun, and that was pretty much it. I guess there was no money left in the budget after the big Crisis On Earth-X crossover.

This week we also get the final appearance of Wentworth Miller as Captain Cold. Unfortunately, he departs in the least interesting way possible. More on that in a bit.

Lastly, this episode made me realize just how much I'm going to miss Victor Garber as Professor Stein. His absence was keenly felt here, as his acerbic personality was like a breath of fresh air on the show. With the exception of Heat Wave, most of the Legends are pretty damned dull, and practically interchangeable. If you don't believe me, try describing Zari without mentioning her power. I'll wait... See? You can't do it! The show definitely needs someone colorful like Stein, and they need 'em now!


The Plot:
In present day Star City, "occult detective" John Constantine sneaks into a mental asylum. Inside he locates a young girl named Emily, who's been possessed by a powerful demon. As he performs an exorcism on her, she begins speaking in the voice of a Demon (which is obviously Mallus). It tells Constantine he can't save the girl, and she'll fall into his shadow realm just like Sarah Lance (aka White Canary). 
The Demon then exits the girl.

Constantine recognizes Canary's name, as he helped bring her back from the dead on Arrow a couple seasons ago. Intrigued, he wonders what she has to do with the Demon. Just then he's confronted by Dr. Moore, an unpleasant old battleaxe of a woman. He uses simple magic to distract her while he escapes.

Constantine uses his magic to track Canary to the Waverider in Central City. He warns her that she's in serious danger, as a powerful Demon knows her by name. She's pretty blase about the whole thing, informing him that the Demon is Mallus, and they've been battling him all season. She even visited his shadowy realm last episode in Beebo, The God Of War. Constantine is surprised by all this, and decides to hang out with the crew and help them defeat Mallus, if possible.

Meanwhile Atom and Zari work on some sort of anti-magic nanite gun, which I'm sure will become important sometime around the season finale. Agent Sharp appears as a Star Wars-type hologram, and tells Canary her efforts to free Rip have stalled due to Time Bureau red tape. Captain Cold overhears the conversation, and points out that Sharp has a crush on her.

The Waverider flies to Star City, where Canary, Steel, Cold, Vixen and Constantine infiltrate the asylum and find Emily. Constantine looks for an empty room so he can try to exorcise her again. Suddenly the Legends see a familiar puddle of water flow under a door. Vixen says it's her granddaughter Kuasa again. She tells the others to go ahead, while she stays behind and fights.

The Legends wheel Emily into a vacant room, as Constantine preps for the exorcism. He addresses Emily, who tells him that's not her real name. Just then Zari, who's been hacking and researching, radios the gang and says Emily's real name is Nora Darhk— daughter of Damien, and one half of the team they've been fighting all season!

Vixen and Kuasa continue to fight. For some reason, Cold tosses his freeze gun to Steel, whose power makes him the last person who ought to need help. He uses the gun to freeze Kuasa's watery form solid, much to Vixen's chagrin.

Constantine draws a mystic symbol around Nora to prevent Mallus from escaping, and begins the exorcism. Mallus takes over Nora's body and taunts Constantine again. He then waltzes right out of the protective pentagram. Nora/Mallus draws another symbol on the floor as Canary, Cold and Constantine (sounds like a law firm) chase after her. When they step on this new symbol, they're instantly teleported back in time to 1969.

Vixen and Steel carry the frozen Kuasa back to the Waverider and seal her inside the medbay. Atom tries to contact Canary and the others, but since they're no longer in the present day, they don't answer. He and Zari go to the asylum to look for them.

In the asylum, Atom and Zari find the symbol on the floor, and discover it's a time incantation. They then see Nora in the cafeteria, and ask her what happened. She admits that Mallus forced her to draw the symbol and send the others back in time. She worries that next time he possesses her, she won't be strong enough to stop him. Zari, who's familiar with such institutions, says they have to free her. Atom doesn't think it's a good idea, but eventually agrees.

In 1969, Canary, Constantine and Cold try to figure out how to get back to the future. They notice a Virgin Mary painting on the wall, that amazingly is still hanging there in 2017. Canary suggests writing a message on the back of it and hoping the Legends somehow find it and realize where they are (?). 

As they sneak down a corridor, Canary hears Mallus' voice and has visions of the walls reaching out for her. Constantine hurries her into a room to recover, while Cold goes off by himself to write the message on the painting. Unfortunately he runs into a younger version of Dr. Moore, who's actually quite attractive in this era (but no less evil). She thinks he's an escaped mental patient, and prepares him for a lobotomy (!).

Back on the Waverider, Vixen thaws out Kuasa and they have a chat. Kuasa reveals why she turned evil (she mistakenly believes her mother abandoned her when armed men burned their village) and tells Vixen spoilers about her own death. Eventually they reach an understanding, and Vixen opens the door to gain Kuasa's trust.

Just then Steel rushes in— still armed with Cold's gun, for some reason— and threatens to freeze Kuasa again. Vixen knocks him out and lets Kuasa go.

Back in 1969, Canary and Constantine hide out in an empty room. Apparently all this excitement and running around makes them horny, and they have "damaged person" sex. Oy.

Atom and Zari take Nora to a coffee shop (Jitters?). Unfortunately Mallus possesses her again, and begins wrecking the shop and threatening the crowd.

In the past, Canary and Constantine wander into a room just as Dr. Moore's about to pound a spike into Cold's eye socket. Canary knocks her out and rescues Cold. She then asks why they can't just use Mallus' temporal symbol to return to the future. Constantine says only a demon like Mallus has enough power to travel through time. 

Canary comes up with a doozy of a plan— she'll let Mallus possess her body long enough to use the symbol and return them to the present. Once they're back, Constantine can exorcise him out of her. He says it's too dangerous, but can't think of any alternatives (!).

Constantine gives Canary a potion to summon Mallus. He possesses her, as her soul appears in his shadow realm. She starts drawing the symbol in the sand. Before she finishes, she hears someone crying. It's Nora, also trapped in the realm.

Meanwhile in 2017, Mallus (in Nora's body) is about to kill Zari and Atom. Zari grabs Mallus by the arm, and he screams in pain at her touch. He hisses that she must be one of "The Six," whatever that means.

In the shadow realm, Canary gives Nora a Patented The CW Pep Talk™, which grants her the strength to return to her body (I know, this is all very confusing). Mallus is evicted from Nora's body in the nick of time, saving Atom and Zari.

Canary finishes drawing the symbol, which returns her to the real world, banishes Mallus from her body, and sends her, Constantine and Cold back to the present. Phew!

In the coffee shop, Atom and Zari console Nora. Suddenly her father Damien Darhk enters. He tells her the Legends are lying to her, as they're all terrified of her power. He tells her Mallus isn't a demon, but her savior. She decides to leave with Darhk for some reason. Win some, you lose some.

Back on the Waverider, Zari tells the Legends that Mallus said she was one of The Six. Vixen says she only knows of five totem bearers— herself, Zari, Kuasa and then Earth and Fire. Constantine says if Mallus is worried about these totems, then they gathering them all together may be the key to stopping him.

Constantine says goodbye to Canary. He then secretly tells Atom to keep working on his anti-magic gun. Cold then decides it's time to go back to Earth-19 and unceremoniously walks off the screen. Well that was underwhelming! Canary calls Agent Sharp, who tells her Rip's escaped from Time Bureau custody. Gosh, I wonder where he'll head first?

• There's no opening narration this week, as we move straight into the action.

• This week's title card looks a bit different than usual...

It's pretty obvious it's meant to echo the one from Constantine's own short-lived NBC TV series. This week's episode also features a few mandolinish bars of the Constantine theme song as well. Cool!

• This episode is a prime example of what I like to call The Comic Book Movie Costume Inverse Accuracy Law. It's a fundamental rule of the universe I made up that states:
The odds of a comic book movie or TV series staying true to the source material is inversely proportional to how much I care about the property in question.
In other words, since I'm not particularly a fan of John Constantine, then of course the TV version of him looks like he stepped right off the page of the Hellblazer comic. Everything about him is perfectly duplicated, right down to the loose tie and rumpled trench coat.

On the flip side, The Fantastic Four is my all time favorite comic, and has been since I was a kid. So of course Hollywood's made three terrible film adaptations, in which the team acts wildly out of character and is virtually unrecognizable.

It stinks, but it's just something I've grown used to.

• In the prologue, Constantine breaks into an asylum and tries to exorcise Mallus from Nora's body. Mallus taunts him, saying, "You cannot save this one, Constantine. You've already failed her, just as you failed Astra." Constantine bristles as the mention of this name.

So who the heck's Astra? Good question. I had no idea, but assumed she was likely someone from his TV show. Looks like I was right.

According to the inter webs, she's a character from Constantine's own show. Astra Logue was a young girl who was possessed by a demon, and Constantine and his crew of fellow supernatural fighters came to her aid. Unfortunately the demon proved to be particularly difficult to evict. Constantine then got the bright idea to summon and even more powerful demon (named Nergal) to kick out the lesser one. The plan worked, sort of. Unfortunately before the demon left, it violently killed Astra and damned her to Hell for eternity.

This caused Constantine's group to break up, and he eventually checked himself into the Ravenscar Psychiatric Facility For The Mentally Deranged, which sounds like a perfectly lovely place to get away from the stress of everyday life.

Eventually Constantine left the facility in order to battle The Rising Darkness, which he did to honor Astra's memory.

• At one point the Waverider flies over Star City, hovers over the Asylum for a few seconds, then cloaks as it lands behind the building.

This happens in virtually every episode. Wouldn't it make infinitely more sense to cloak before they fly over a populated area, so the public's not freaked out by the sight of a futuristic timeship sailing overhead?

I get it— if the ship's cloaked then it's gonna be tough to audience to see it and follow the action. But surely there's gotta be a better way to handle this.

• There's a running joke all through this episode in which Constantine keeps trying to light up a "fag," only to fail over and over. He either can't find a lighter anywhere, his matches don't work or he's interrupted before he can light up.

I'm pretty sure this is a nod to the Constantine TV series. In the comics, Constantine's tobacco use was a defining part of his character, as he was constantly puffing away on his Silk Cut brand cigs. 

There was even a comic storyline called Dangerous Habits, in which Constantine learns he has lung cancer, and desperately tries to avoid death in order to prevent his soul from being tortured for eternity in Hell. Eventually several demons show up to collect his soul at the moment of his death, but he tricks them into healing him of his disease. This storyline was even the basis (sort of) for the horrible Constantine theatrical movie— the one starring Keanu Reeves of all people.

Anyway, when the TV series began, NBC's Standards & Practices Department informed the producers that characters CANNOT be shown smoking on network TV— therefore Constantine had to give up his several-packs-a-day habit. Because showing blood, gore, demons and little girls being set on fire is just fine, but the sight of a man smoking a cigarette... well, that just going too far.

The producers tried to work around this limitation as much as possible. They'd often cut to Constantine just as he was stabbing out a butt in an ashtray, or show him putting a cig in his mouth but become distracted before he could light it.

Apparently The CW doesn't have a problem showing people smoking. At the end of the episode, Constantine FINALLY gets to light up a cigarette on network TV! Huzzah!

• When Constantine first boards the Waverider, Heat Wave somehow mistakes him for Rip Hunter. Apparently he thinks all Englishmen look alike, and can't tell them apart. That's racist!

• Inside the asylum, the group locates Nora and Constantine prepares to exorcise her. He and Atom then have the following conversation:

Constantine: "All right, now, uh, where to perform an exorcism?"
Atom: (over the comm) "There's a vacant room in the east wing, room 237."
Constantine: "237. Allons y, Alonzo."

A couple things here. First of all, Room 237 is a reference to Stanley Kubrick's The Shining. It was the most haunted room inside the Overlook Hotel, and the one Jack Halloran warned young Danny Torrance to stay out of. It's also the name of a documentary about the meaning of the film, which is filled with over-analysis and inaccurate theories.

Secondly, the line "Allons y, Alonzo" is a Doctor Who reference, from back when the show was still watchable. The Tenth Doctor's catchphrase was an enthusiastic "Allons y!" (French for "Let's go!") which he uttered in quite a few episodes. The Doctor often remarked that he wished he'd someday get the chance to shout, "Allons y, Alonzo!" He finally got his wish in the 2008 Christmas Special Voyage Of The Damned, in which he met a character named— what else— Alonzo.

• In the asylum, Steel says he's going to help Vixen battle Kuasa. Amazingly, Cold tosses his freeze gun to Steel and says he might need it. Steel. The guy who can transform his skin into living metal. The one Legend who should be impervious to anything Kuasa could throw at him.

This was some obvious and not-so-subtle plot trickery on the part of the writers. By having Cold needlessly get rid of his gun, he was helpless when he and the others were sent back to 1969. Sloppy!

• Jesus Christ, what is it with the consistently horrible wigs on all the Arrowverse shows? Look at that sad, black floor mop perched on top of Nora's head! I've honestly seen more convincing hairpieces in Spirit Halloween stores! Fire that wigmaker, stat!

What the hell happened to the art of TV wigmaking? I don't remember noticing obviously fake wigs like this on shows in the past. Is it possible that wigs have just always looked like this, but we're just now noticing it because we're seeing them in hi-def?

• At one point Vixen and her granddaughter Kuasa have a heart to heart chat. While watching this scene, I came to the conclusion that Kuasa would make a much cooler member of the Legends than her lackluster granny. I honestly wish they'd figure out a way to reform her and keep her on the team. 

Vixen has a cool superpower and all, but she's so damned dull... It's like watching a plank of wood try to emote. I have a feeling she won't be around much longer anyway. If you'll recall, earlier this season in Freakshow she agreed to stay onboard the Waverider until she sorted out her rage/control issues, which caused her to murder a squad of Belgian soldiers. 

Oddly enough this subplot seems to have been completely forgotten at this point, so there's really no reason for her to stick around. Not to mention the fact that she has to return to her village in 1942, or else her daughter and granddaughters Mari and Kuasa will never be born. 

Add it all up and I'm betting we'll see Vixen depart in the season finale.

• This episode introduces the concept of The Six— a group of mystical totem-bearers who are obviously being set up to battle and ultimately defeat Mallus.

As concepts go, it's not a bad one, I suppose. So who are The Six? They seem to all represent the classic Earth elements, plus a couple more. So far we have Zari (Air), Kuasa (Water) and Vixen (um... Animals?). Vixen herself says they know of two others, Fire and Earth, but I have no idea who she's talking about here. That leaves one more elemental we've not heard of yet. 

The sixth element better not turn out to be Love, or I'm out!

• Looks like the Waverider's medbay got a big upgrade since Xmas. There's now a large isolation chamber in the center of it, and the entire room seems to have grown exponentially. It's yet another vast space inside the relatively tiny ship!

• Back in the Season 2 episode Turncoat, I expressed my disappointment and disgust with Steel and Vixen, who decided to ignore their mission because it was more important to have sex in a tent instead. Our heroes, ladies and gents!

This week Canary and Constantine do pretty much the same thing. Instead of protecting Young Nora or trying to figure out how to get back to the present day, they say what the hell and have "damaged person" sex instead. Once again, their little tryst is completely gratuitous, as it has absolutely nothing to do with the story, and is there just to inject some sex into the script. Feh!

• Welp, goodbye to Captain Cold, I guess. According to the producers, this episode supposedly marked Wentworth Miller's final appearance in the Arrowverse

So how'd they celebrate his departure? Fireworks? Fanfare? Epic storyline? Nope! He just said, "Time to go back to Earth-X!" and literally just walked off the set. Talk about underwhelming!

By the way, how does he get back to Earth-X? It lies in a completely different parallel universe! It's not like he can just take a cab there. Does he have some sort of dimensional-hopping device I forgot about? 

This Week's Best Lines:
Heat Wave: (seeing Constantine enter the ship) "I thought we gave the Englishman to the Time Pigs."

Canary: "That was Rip. This is John Constantine."
Heat Wave: "Skinny Brit in a trench coat. Same thing."

Canary: "Look, Ava's the kind of girl that you take home to your parents, and I am the kind you take to an exorcism."

Canary: (to an orderly, as she tries to take Nora from him) "Thank you, I can take it from here. I mean, her from here."
Orderly: "I'm sorry, who are you?"
Canary: "I'm Doctor... Yeah, I'm not doing this."
(she then knocks the orderly senseless and takes Nora)

Vixen: "I refuse to accept that my granddaughter is pure evil."
Steel: "Fine, she's 89% evil."

Atom: "Guys, I think Sara is in trouble."
Heat Wave: (who's trying to watch football) "Quiet! Haircut, take the new girl. Find Blondie, Fake Snart, and Trenchcoat. Amaya, the Med-Bay. Pretty, the library. Water Bitch stays in the freezer."
Atom: "You know, Mick, you're really showing some management potential."
Heat Wave: "Get out."

Atom: "Nate! We haven't found Sara or the rest of the team, but we did find a strange symbol."
Steel: "What's it look like?"
Atom: "Well, it looks like a circle with a line above the circle, and then there's like a U-shape coming off of the circle."
Steel: (puzzled) "A duck?"
(Zari takes a photo of the symbol and texts it to Steel)
Zari: "Welcome back to the 21st century, you Luddites."

Atom: (discussing Nora to Zari) "We can't take her out of here. We're dealing with a D-E-M-O-N."
Nora: "I'm not five. I know how to spell demon."

Zari: "So, what are you gonna order?"
Nora: "Oh, um, hot chocolate, with whipped cream and caramel sauce."
Atom: "Uh, we just got her off her meds. Do you really wanna get her hooked on sugar?"
Zari: (annoyed) "You know what? I think I'll have a donut, too!"
(I know Atom's a rabid anti-sugar crusader, but is this really the best time to get into a debate on its evils?) 

Dr. Moore: "Who are you?"
Canary: "We're also from the future. And spoiler alert, you don't age well!"

Flagged Post (February 2018)

I've posted this many times now, and I'm going to keep doing it until something changes. Which will be never.

DATELINE: Cleveland, Ohio–– In response to overwhelming consumer demand, this week the American Association Of Decorative Hardware And Fixtures announced it's making a fundamental design change in all flagpoles. Beginning immediately, all poles manufactured in America will be designed to display flags at half mast only.

Sid Silverbaum, President of the Association, said, "We got a lot of feedback from various groundskeepers, patriots and elderly veterans from around the country, all of whom are exhausted from constantly having to trudge out to their poles and lower their flags to half mast every two to three days. Frankly it just doesn't make sense to make poles that display flags all the way at the top anymore."

According to Silverbaum, the new Half-Master® brand poles will be in stores by the end of the year, just in time for the latest mass shooting or Independence Day, whichever comes first.
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