We recap this week’s Arrowverse episodes: Supergirl 3×14 “Schott Through the Heart,” The Flash 4×18 “Lose Yourself,” Black Lightning 1×13 “Shadow of Death: The Book of War” and Arrow 6×19 “The Dragon.”
This week in the Arrowverse, Winn’s estranged mother returns, DeVoe sets his sets on the final bus metas, the Pierce family goes to war with the ASA and Black Siren accompanies Ricardo Diaz on a criminally-themed field trip.
‘Supergirl’ 3×14 ‘Schott Through the Heart’
Supergirl returns from hiatus with a Winn-centric episode. It’s been far too long since Winn has had much to do besides be snarky science guy at the DEO, and Jeremy Jordan proves in this episode he deserves a lot more meaty material to work with. Toyman’s death in prison sets a string of events in motion that starts with the return of Winn’s mother, Mary, whom he hasn’t seen in two decades.
Much of the episode revolves around Winn’s resentment toward Mary for leaving him, but Winn doesn’t have the full story about his parents’ relationship. Mary protected him from the worst of his father’s instability and abuse. Memories he has that are tinged with bitterness toward Mary are put into new focus as he realizes just how much he was protected from and how little he truly knows his mother.
While Winn has his world thrown upside down, James proves to be a solid support. Watching James be a good friend reminds me of just how far these two have come in their relationship. But more than that, it makes me miss the Superfriends dynamic in season 1, when the Supergirl operation was the trio of Kara, Winn and James working out of an empty office in CatCo.
By the end of the episode, Winn has stopped the villain of the week — a guard who grew close to Toyman while he was in prison and is fulfilling his final wishes — and asked his mother to stick around so they can get to know one another.
Where Winn gains his mother by the end of the episode, though, J’onn learns that he is starting to lose his father. In a heartbreaking plot, Alex figures out that M’yrnn has dementia M’yrnn doesn’t want to burden J’onn, especially since they’ve only just found one another, but Alex convinces him to tell his son the truth. It hardly seems fair that J’onn, after so long of being alone, would have to lose his father to something as cruel — and mundane — as dementia.
Finally, Mon-El reveals to Kara that the real reason the Legion landed their ship when and where they did is because the Worldkiller Pestilence will eventually evolve into Blight, so the goal is to stop that before it happens.
‘The Flash’ 4×18 ‘Lose Yourself’
Much of this episode focuses on the conflict between Barry and Ralph as Ralph wants to kill DeVoe. Barry asserts that Ralph intending to kill DeVoe long before the final confrontation is tantamount to murder, and doing so changes a person. And as a hero with a good heart, you’d expect Barry to say this.
Yet Team Flash’s hands aren’t bloodless. Each season’s Big Bad has ended up dead (or possibly worse) so far: Eobard Thawne was erased from existence when Eddie Thawne killed himself, Hunter Zolomon was taken by Time Wraiths after Barry created a time remnant and tortured until he became Black Flash and Iris shot Savitar in the back.
I suppose the intellectual difference is that none of the actions were premeditated while what Ralph is talking about is. But is a willingness to kill someone threatening your life and the lives of your loved ones unheroic? Is this different than what Joe West does when he pulls out his gun while on duty or what a soldier does while on deployment?
Anyway, Team Flash is lured into sneaking into DeVoe’s lair. However, DeVoe sees this coming and simultaneously sneaks into S.T.A.R. Labs. While distracting the remaining members of Team Flash, DeVoe kills the metas in the pipeline and takes their abilities.
Ralph confronts him and gets the upper hand without killing him and cuffs him with power-dampening cuffs, but DeVoe hacks the cuffs and free himself. He incapacitates the newly-returned Barry and takes over Ralph. Ralph’s elastic body, it turns out, is immune to the degrading effects of his mental abilities.
Ralph had the chance to kill DeVoe, and had he done so, his own life would have been saved and DeVoe would not have the perfect body for his needs. And Caitlin wouldn’t have lost Killer Frost, as DeVoe uses Melting Points powers to remove her abilities.
While I think Caitlin losing Killer Frost, when that was all she wanted for the longest time, has the potential to be an interesting story that will force her to accept her alter ego, this feels like an odd time for it to play out since she seemed to be accepting Killer Frost well enough on her own. This journey might have had more power last season or at the beginning of this season.
‘Black Lightning’ 1×13 ‘Shadow of Death: The Book of War’
The season finale of Black Lightning is a family-centric outing as a comatose Jefferson has flashbacks to the time around his father’s murder and Gambi coming into his life. Much of Jefferson’s worldview comes into focus with these flashbacks.
Perhaps the most emotional moment of the hour, though, comes as the adult Jefferson speaks to a vision of his father — he apologizes and seeks acceptance for becoming Black Lightning. The adult Jefferson seems to revert to boyhood as he apologizes for staying under the bed the night of the murder; Alvin, though, tells him he did exactly the right thing. And it is Alvin’s encouragement that pushes Jefferson to wake up.
Meanwhile, in the waking world, the ASA attempts to track down Thunder while Tobias, Syonide and Khalil (dubbed Painkiller) plan to storm the ASA. But first, Tobias sends Lala as a bomb mule as a distraction. Though this kills Lala, Tobias invested in a resurrection program, so I doubt he brought Lala back just to blow him up; I expect to see Lala again in season 2.
Back in the woods, when Jefferson wakes up, he discovers he can’t access his powers. This is bad news since ASA agents are on their way to the cabin. But Jennifer is starting to get a grip on her abilities; she powers up and hugs Jefferson tightly, powering him back up.
It’s quite moving to watch Jennifer in the previous episode and the finale embrace her abilities. And she’s a quick study, showing impressive control over them by the time the family escapes. It should be a lot of fun to see her joining forces with Jefferson and Anissa in season 2.
A highlight of the episode comes as the Pierces plus Gambi confront Proctor, who has lost everything. The four Pierces, three powered and one with a shotgun, surround him before Gambi comes in. Gambi, realizing Proctor has gone rogue from the ASA, shoots him without much preamble.
Gambi’s gray morality has been one of my favorite revelations of the season; he initially appeared to be an Alfred-type character to Jefferson’s Bruce Wayne, but he has proven complicated and messy in satisfying and fascinating ways.
The episode closes with Tobias opening a case that belonged to Proctor and declaring himself the king of Freeland while the Pierce family has happy reunited.
Read our full season 1 review here.
‘Arrow’ 6×19 ‘The Dragon’
The show may be called Arrow, but the main character only appears for about a minute near the end of “The Dragon.” This is partly by design, as Felicity is struggling with not being able to monitor Oliver’s missions, and partly because this episode belongs to Ricardo Diaz.
Black Siren accompanies Diaz on a mission; Diaz has set up a meeting with a member of the Quadrant, a group of four powerful crime lords from across the country. His intent is to offer up Star City, now open for criminal business, as proof that he belongs as a member of the Quadrant. Diaz, unlike other villains on Arrow, has targeted Star City not out of personal attachment to the city or people in it like other villains but as a means to a greater end: a stepping stone to a criminal empire.
This episode is the first time Diaz displays why he is such a fearsome opponent. We’ve mostly been told that he’s dangerous at this point. But “The Dragon” gives him the chance to show off his skills, and he tears through gangsters like wet toilet paper. In fact, his brutality is such that even Black Siren is forced to look away.
We also learn what makes Diaz tick. He was an orphan who was brutalized by an older boy at the orphanage. This wrecked his self-esteem and created anger issues that he repressed into a being he calls The Dragon — the very tattoo he has on his neck. He has since built himself up to fight his self-doubt, forcing himself to be patient and at times turn the other cheek if it serves his larger ends.
But he doesn’t appreciate being jerked around, and this creates a much greater body count in this episode, as the son of one of the Quadrant members tries to get cute with Diaz. Both he and his father end up dead, and Diaz ends up taking the empty seat at the table with the Quadrant.
But this is not enough; he has one final demon to exorcise. He tracks down his childhood bully, douses him with lighter fuel and, pulling a Daenerys Targaryen, lights him on fire. It’s absolutely brutal, and Black Siren seems on the verge of leaving his employ.
By the end of the episode, I’m convinced that Diaz is a worthy villain for the season, though this might have been more effective a few episodes ago. Much like the “Legion of Doom” episode on Legends of Tomorrow, this villain-centric episode is one of the strongest of the season, thanks in large part to a charismatic performance from Kirk Acevedo.