Arrowverse Real Talk - Featuring The Flash

I have not been blogging about the Arrowverse this Fall season, and the reasons for that are many, including not having as much time as I did last year. That said, a good chunk of my lack of motivation has come from the fact that most of the Arrowverse is a goddamn hot mess this year.

Supergirl started off obnoxious and featuring a couple of lesbians arguing constantly about the most asinine wedding decisions (DJ? Live Band? This argument took a whole episode to resolve!), although there was an attempt in the third episode to tell Maggie's story and feature her homophobic Mexican father who came up with a bogus AF reason for not wanting to be at her wedding. That was also a pretty decent episode because Kara wasn't the main feature; she goes up to Mars to help J'onn take care of some personal business, and it was overall a damn fine story. However, Supergirl has the Iris West problem: it doesn't know what the hell to do with its primary black character that isn't superpowered/alien, aka James Olsen. Last season he was all about doing good as the Guardian. This season, not only has he not done jack shit as the Guardian, but then his job as head of Catco gets taken away by Lena Luthor. Which, admittedly, I love all the Lena, and oh my god I ship Lena and Kara so hard... but not at the expense of a black character, FFS.

Hey guys! Remember me? Cuz my writers don't!
Arrow is... not bad, but it's not spectacular either. I'm still with it because it has its moments, and +1 internets for Stephen Amell managing to sneak in a Bruce Wayne reference that made fans titter. I've somewhat enjoyed the Oliver-as-single-dad storyline, but I'm giving this show's writer's the stink eye for what's going on with John Diggle (hey, another black character that the writers seem to engaging in some wtfuckery with). And look, as much as I hated how they killed off Katie Cassidy's Black Canary in season 4, can we just not with Black Siren? She's so shoehorned-in and forced, it's not even funny.


Legends of Tomorrow has been 100% fabulous and you should go watch it right now. The reason for this is because both the writers and the actors of the show have all come to the conclusion that they are on the campiest show on the CW, and goddamn it, they are going to have fun with it! Legends has featured ridiculously hilarious stories of the Legends bumbling their way to heroic acts, the actors are clearly having a blast along the way, and I walk away every week with a smile on my face.

Camp has never looked this good before. 

But dear god, The Flash what in the Nine Hells are you doing?

Easily the worst of the four superhero shows on the CW, The Flash has hurt to watch sometimes. Barry is brought back within seconds after last season's "cliffhanger" (I called it, someone owes me $20, Barry didn't even last a full episode off of his show), and he finds that Iris has taken charge of Team Flash in the meantime. Which, on a surface level, I am totally fine with. Iris needed to do something, as she's been anything but useful in the previous seasons. I'm happy that Iris has taken front and center and that even after Barry's return, she still has a take-charge attitude.

But this show still doesn't know what to do with Caitlin Snow. We finally got a decent episode last night with Caitlin showing that she and Killer Frost have a tense coexistence but at least we can have them both, which is cool. But until last night, Caitlin has just been putzing around in the background, not really doing much. Which has been a problem with her character for four straight seasons.

Inexplicably, The Flash shoved aside fan favorite Kid Flash, ostensibly because the special effects for two speedsters at the same time were too expensive, and also because the show's writers apparently couldn't conceive of creating stories for Wally that didn't involve his speedster abilities. That sound you're hearing is me rolling my eyes because the Firestorm special effects are expensive for Legends of Tomorrow too, and yet magically, the writers of that show have figured out how to write stories for Jax and Martin that don't require them to fire up in every episode. Fancy, that. So Kid Flash got written off the show for reasons, although he's supposed to be back for the wedding crossover special. But there goes another black hero, running off into the sunset.

Don't run, Wally. Don't run.

What makes me really angry about this is that they replaced Kid Flash with another superpowered dude, this time the Elongated Man, and I get that maybe it's slightly cheaper to stretch Ralph's limbs as a special effect than to do a speedster, but really? Your excuse for getting rid him was that it was too expensive to keep a speedster around, so you replace him with a superpowered white guy? To further rub salt in the wound, Elongated Man had a pretty decently amusing introductory episode, but then completely ruins the character last night in "Girls Night Out" by making Ralph a really gross misogynist playboy who forces Barry's bachelor party into a strip club so Ralph can make continuously gratuitous leering at dancers. It took exactly one episode for me to hate this character. I'm pretty sure that's a new record. Even Marvel's Inhumans took the time to make its wooden and terribad main characters hateful to the audience over the course of five or six episodes.

"Girls Night Out" wasn't a totally terrible episode, because it did feature Iris, Caitlin, Felicity, and Cecile having to save the day from the weekly bad guy while Barry is off getting hilariously drunk thanks to Cisco. If the episode had been only about the ladies getting to be heroic, it would have been amazing.

This is my "WTF was that strip club subplot all about" face too, Felicity
While I deeply appreciated Barry's de facto drunken state being that he stands at the bar shouting "I am the Flash!" to a bunch of equally as drunk strangers who cheer for him every time, the whole strip club scene was seven levels of awkward and potentially really disturbing. Besides Ralph being gross the whole time, there was this weird subplot about Cecile's adult daughter dancing at the club as research for a book she's writing about feminism and the male gaze, which okay, I can kind of dig it. But there are some weird undertones of incredible disrespect for sex workers. And frankly, it was a very odd subplot that came entirely out of left field and had something to do with Joe being a parent or something, and something something "I'm freaked out about Cecile being pregnant." This part of the episode was, at best, an incomprehensible tangent, and at worst, fucking gross.

Also, what is the point of Cecile's baby? I've heard a fan theory that Cecile and Joe's baby might be Bartholomew, who in Young Justice is Kid Flash from the future (and Barry's grandson) who comes back in time to hang out with Barry and Wally. Just what this show needs, another future black speedster who can get shoved off to the side too.

Can we talk about how The Thinker, this season's big bad, looks like Brainiac? No? Okay, but let's at least thank The Speed Force that it's not another flipping speedster.

Look, The Flash season four is not as bad as Arrow season four (thank Dog), but I feel like this show is still lost and hasn't quite found its footing, something it lost way back in season two after a wonderfully fun and vibrant season one. The writers really need to find whatever muse it was that let them finally tell a compelling story about Iris and Caitlin being a part of an all-lady hero team, and stick with it, because that was good stuff. Whatever the hell else is going on with this show, though? It needs to get it together.

There is a silver lining to all of this, though. Nothing on the CW is as bad as Marvel's Inhumans.

But then again, very little is.

Ivonne Martin is a writer, gamer, and avid consumer of all things geek—and is probably entirely too verbose for her own good.