Here’s my giant-size take on all the DC Comics TV finales … except Supergirl. Also excepting Lucifer & iZombie since I don’t watch those. They’re technically DC shows since Vertigo is a DC imprint. There’s also no season finale review of Preacher because it just started for Grodd’s sake! But SPOILERS for Gotham, Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, & Arrow are inbound!
Got-Ham?’s sophomore season has seen a huge improvement in consistency from its uneven first. Now it’s a better paced Grand Guignol version of the ’66 Batman series. The show has addressed most of my complaints from my Topless Robot article (the main exception being the triumphant return of Montoya & Allen) down to my side-note about using Azrael! It’s more confident in its campiness & is all the more charming for it. This season had a lot more of villains interacting with each other, which is one of my favorite things. On any other show, four corpses strung up would be a major event. For Gotham, it’s Monday.
The season’s MVP turned out to be BD Wong as Professor Hugo Strange. He’s the Patron Saint of Mad Science. His success with convincing the resurrected Theo Galavan he was Azrael inspired him declare to his charges at Indian Hill “You get a new identity! And you get a new identity! Everyone gets a new identity!” From cloning featherless dinosaurs to reanimating the dead with new identities & powers, is there anything he can’t do? This series doesn’t even bother depicting police protocol accurately so it doesn’t waste time justifying implanted superpowers beyond some handwaving about oceanic genes. Strange had also contracted the assassination of Batman’s parents to Matches Malone (on order from the Court of Owls, who are probably working for someone else because conspiracies are matryoshkas), which is more interesting than Wayne Enterprises’ board of directors if the series is insisting on it not being happenstance. He’s the perfect foil for guileless Jim Gordon.
While the series improved, the season finale didn’t have the same oomph that I expected of it. The stakes were much lower than the other superhero finales this season, which is a double-edged sword. True to form, the GCPD lives up to its reputation by not realizing Gordon has been replaced by an incredibly sketchy Clayface until Barbara literally slaps the expression off his face. Riddler was supposed to gas Bruce Wayne & Lucius Fox to death for losing his quiz show but was only provided with knockout gas just so Bruce can grow up to be Batman. Strange gets an acute case of stupiditis upon seeing Fish Mooney has escaped but fortunately survives despite sustaining massive injuries from Mr. Freeze & Firefly, who then evaporate from the narrative. It didn’t even commit to Captain Barnes dying in the hospital so Harvey Bullock could be his permanent ill-suited replacement who tells reporters about suspects exploding into meat-dust. Fish Mooney crashed a bus full of Indian Hill experiments in Gotham City proper, including a Bruce Wayne doppelgänger so we’re getting Thomas Wayne Jr./Owlman to go with Court of Owls next season. It felt more like the middle chapter of a book than a thrilling climax.
I need a DCC toy of Leg-Ends of Tomorrow’s Leviathan because it was rad! It looked like a great Chemo redesign, but I guess they’re saving that toxic homunculus for something else. It didn’t step through the roof after Atom jinxed the team as promised in the superlative original trailer though. I was really looking forward to that scene too!
Hawgirl bashing Vandal Savage with her Nth Metal mace was her crowning moment of awesome. Too bad she abruptly ended it once the guard was unmasked as brainwashed Hawkman. She would’ve averted a whole mess of trouble had she just caved in Savage’s skull right there. It’s even more unfortunate that Ciara Renée was sidelined from much of the prior action & stuck in a love triangle nobody enjoyed. (Poor Atom, the human equivalent of a Labrador.) I’m sad she’s leaving just as soon as they freed her up from worrying about Savage, but hopefully she’ll pop up again when we meet our new Thanagarian overlords. (Hawkman’s not welcome back.)
I’m not sure why they let Rip Hunter stick around since his arc as a failure wrapped too. (Anyone else find it odd that him inventing Time Spheres was never relevant to this series?)
The finale itself was crazy yet entertaining. The Thanagarian meteorites turned out to be technology that can be activated with the Hawkpeople’s blood! If they explode while Earth is in conjunction with Thanagar, time rewinds back to the initial meteorite crash in ancient Egypt! Vandal Savage somehow figured this out as soon as he had a timeship & assumed it would also allow him to directly conquer the Earth, which he could also do just by returning to 2166! Professor Stein instantly calculated when Thanagar would be in alignment with Earth despite only learning of Thanagar’s existence moments ago! Then they also deduced the additonal radiation would render Savage mortal to normal weapons. (But Hawkgirl just got the Nth metal mace!) It was a good plot to take advantage of the show’s fantastical elements, but I wish it had been peppered through earlier instead of everyone drawing the right conclusions out a hat in the finale.
After dragging out the premise for longer than necessary, they finally kill Vandal Savage permanently. To apologize for the wait, they slay him thrice! It truly is The Olympics of Murder! Heatwave’s gun even reverted to lethal mode instead of the Power Rangers mode it & Captain Cold’s gun were stuck in all season! It’s about time, but I’m going to miss Casper Crump’s accent. I want him to narrate all the audio-books!
Unlike the deaths on Agents of SHIELD‘s third season finale, I’m upset about Captain Cold’s sacrifice. At least he went out screwing over the bargain basement Time Lords whilst quoting
Ultron Pinocchio! (If they can’t even stop Reverse Flash from mucking with the timeline, what good are those collarless yahoos?) Maybe now there will be chronal consequences to the team perpetually failing? Wentworth Miller now has a unique multi-series contract for all of Greg Berlanti’s shows, but I don’t get how that changes anything given that the CW DC shows were already sharing actors. I hoped something about Savage’s meteorite gambit would’ve resurrected him, but at the moment it seems like he’ll be restricted to just flashbacks. Maybe the contract will allow him to sneak into Berlanti’s Archie adaptation, Riverdale?
The finale even gave us WWII action for a few scenes. It was like it just squeezed in the obligatory Nazi killing at the last minute because it used up its allocation for a proper WWII episode on a pointless wild west tale. Its Sgt. Rock looked too young & ungrizzled before he was unceremoniously killed.
Black Canary White Canary was awesome as usual, but if she reunited with her dad in the middle of last week’s (Green) Arrow, why didn’t she get her team to help thwart Darhk’s nuclear assault before going after Savage?
Firestorm finally transmuting things was neat. I was disappointed Jax didn’t roofie Professor Stein back to get him to the final scene.
It had a cliffhanger similar to Supergirl’s but better since we actually got a taste of things to come. Inside a battered older version of Waverider (shouldn’t it be golden?) was “beloved superhero” Booster Gold! Nope, he’s off limits now that he’s slated for a feature film. It was Hourman, who’s nobody’s favorite, but we’ll let it slide since he’s bringing along the Justice Society of America, who now come from the future instead of WWII. Hopefully the second season will have a Big Bad better suited to its episode count.
The F-Lash had the best finale of the lot, but Time Remnants still make no sense!
The writers did a good job making Zoom different enough from the Reverse Flash, though he really strained credulity. Nobody on Earth-2 recognizes its most infamous serial killer once he had a shave & a haircut? Why doesn’t he kill all of Barry’s friends & family? I’m oddly charmed by the psycho mass murderer just wanting a foot race … of doom! (Merlyn would be a teensy bit more bearable if he challenged Green Arrow to an archery contest … of death!) It was cool to see the STAR Labs crew pull an intervention on Barry’s honorable martyrdom & taking down Zoom by themselves with cunning instead of running.
Even with all her womanpain, Caitlin Snow is still a wet blanket. Killer Frost should’ve been the multiversal counterpart to survive, not her. Zoom did kill the right Henry Allen, as he was the least interesting of Barry’s dads. The real Jay Garrick of Earth-3 (Supergirl is from Earth-4 at the earliest now) is an upgrade, even if Rocketeer jackets are classier.
I guess we’ll have to wait until next season for Jesse Quick & Wally West to become speedsters. Joe testing Wally for metahumanness was hilarious.
They gave special effects guru Armen Kevorkian his first directing gig, & he explodes Barry! Way to reference the best part of
Age of Apocalypse Flashpoint! (The Impossible Dinosaur makes me sad & it’s not even a real book.) Then he was disintegrated again in the finale!I love it when this happens.
Of course they had to spoil the finale’s goodwill by directly invoking Flashpoint in the last sequence. Damn it, Barry, you should’ve just done this at the end of season one! He’s probably immune to Time Wraiths too since the Reverse Flash acknowledged he altered the original timeline. I’m still not excited about having brand new chronology next season. It basically screws over GA & LoT if Barry reverted things to him not becoming Flash until 2020.
(Green) Arrow had the dullest of the finales, but on the upside it wasn’t (Green) Arrow season three! Its fourth finale did a few tropes I’m not fond of. There was citizenry standing up to a supervillain, followed by henchman charging at said citizenry whilst completely forgetting they have guns. This combo was dumb in The Dark Knight Rises, dumb in the midpoint of season three, & it’s dumb now.
The most irritating part of this season was the flash forward to the grave at the season’s start to reveal the promise of the season being less dour was false. The runner-up was Oliver’s secret baby drama. I was hoping the show would slay a couple of fowl with a stone by putting the kid and or his mom in the grave, but when the showrunners spun the Wheel of Death it landed on … Laurel Lance! Laurel was my most hated character in the first two seasons, but I’ve mellowed on her since she became Black Canary. Killing her so soon after she stopped being a total drag seems pointless since Sara isn’t reclaiming her rightful mantle. I would’ve cheered for this death if it had come years earlier, but I’m ambivalent since they didn’t have the courtesy to kill Arsenal for real as well. At least the characters I care about were spared.
Third place was how soon they rolled back status quo changes like Felicity’s paralysis. Ditto Damien Darhk’s depowering & dethroning. (Why would the team put 99% of the idol back together after Vixen broke it for them?) Oliver bunting on the mayoral campaign was a wash too. These are solid plot & character developments, so why sweep them under the rug without exploiting their meaty potential?
Damien Darhk wound up being a surprisingly good villain. His jokey dad demeanor contrasted well with his death magic. His motivation & schemes were fairly consistent throughout. All he needed was a more dynamic wardrobe than basic business black. I would’ve liked to have seen more of Damien & Ruvé together since they felt like a well balanced power couple. Most importantly, Neal McDonough brought plenty of energy to every scene. He’s everything that Ra’s al Ghul wasn’t, which is disappointing in its own right given how adapting such a major supervillain should’ve been a slam-dunk.
The team up of season three’s B-list villains (Brick, Murmur, & Brother Eye) actually kind of worked to broaden the scope of Darhk’s threat. (Do Cupid, Vertigo, Komodo, & Captain Boomerang get upgraded to A-list just for not showing up?) Anarky proved to be an effective wildcard. I appreciated that they acknowledged how Darhk’s scheme was just a grander version of Merlyn’s. (They need to get rid of him for real next season.) It’s going to be tricky to up the stakes next year given that a town was nuked.
Next year the show ought to have a female Big Bad to shake things up. Nah, it’ll be Malcom frelling Merlyn again. Hopefully offing his movie counterpart means Anatoli Knyazev/KGBeast won’t be embargoed for season five. If he is, can they at least get NKVDevil? Since this will be the final year of Oliver flashbacks, does that mean it’ll be the final season as well? Or will season six keep flashing back to season one?
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The next blog will go up by Memorial Day so I can tell you how X-Men: Apocalypse let me down!