Last week saw the return of Supergirl, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Arrow on The CW. As in years past, the season premieres serve to show us how the characters are dealing with the events from last season’s finale as well as set up this season’s arc. Supergirl saved the world, but her actions meant losing Mon-El. Barry entered the Speed Force in order to save the world (don’t worry, it’s a different world than the one Supergirl saved), leaving his friends and loved ones–Iris in particular–behind. The Legends saved the world (naturally) by stopping the Legion of Doom from rewriting reality, but in the process broke time itself. Oliver didn’t save the world. He didn’t save his city. He wasn’t even able to save all of his friends and family from the destruction of Lian Yu.
How have their actions impacted these heroes and those they care about going into this season? We break down the episodes throughout the week on the GeekDad Facebook page, then recap those discussions right here… same geek time, same geek channel.
Supergirl is pushing down her feelings of grief over losing Mon-El and pushing away everyone close to her, because negative emotions are for chumps. Look, heroes like The Flash and Supergirl are supposed to be beacons of hope, burning through the darkness of whatever world-destroying event is taking place. Proving the producers learned nothing from season three’s emo-Barry over on The Flash, they’ve worked the writer’s room hard all summer to find a way to deliver emo-“I’m not Kara, I’m Supergirl” for season three of Supergirl. Thanks, but no thanks.
In other developments, in a heavy-handed attempt to try and be politically relevant, the writers have Cat Grant making jabs meant for President Trump. Note to the Supergirl writers: if you’re going to enter that arena, then tune into The Gifted on Fox right after Supergirl in order to learn how to deliver socio-political commentary that is meaningful to the characters and the plot without reducing said commentary to throw-away one-liners.
Ownership of CatCo is the other conflict on the table during the season premiere, as new character/villain Morgan Edge (portrayed by Adrian Pasdar, channeling John Barrowman) threatens to buy the media conglomerate in order to stop the bad press they’ve been giving him. Additional note to the Supergirl writers: that’s a better attempt at political commentary than Cat’s zingers. Enter Lena Luthor to save CatCo from becoming a propaganda piece for Edge by purchasing the company herself.
The one redeeming moment from the episode was Alex asking J’onn to step in and walk Alex down the aisle at her wedding to Maggie. It was a fantastic moment that built upon the relationship between the two hard-asses that we’ve watched over the past two seasons. More of this, please!
Finally, we get a small, slight, utterly incomprehensible at this point in the narrative peek at new Kryptonian villain Reign.
Analysis: Supergirl‘s season three premiere was the fourth-rated premiere on The CW this week, with 1.87 million viewers (down 21% from last year’s premiere), finishing in last pace in it’s Monday night timeslot. Unless the series can give us heart and spectacle–soon–I expect the ratings to continue to decline, and I imagine that I’ll be one of those abandoning ship. There are too many better options for my limited television viewing time to suffer through another emo-<Insert Hero> season of anything.
Barry’s gone into the Speed Force. Iris is avoiding dealing with her emotions by running away from them (it’s like Supergirl all over again, which was a rehash of everything that has been wrong with The Flash… talk about a circular reference!). Wally and Cisco are Central City’s protectors–apparently along with Steel, on occasion–and look like they’re having way more fun than Barry ever had. Seriously, can we get some flashback episodes this season of these two fighting crime during Barry’s absence.
Unfortunately, Cisco brings the good times to an end by dragging Barry back from the Speed Force. Barry is babbling strings of nonsense, or possibly snippets of dialogue and teases of future season four episodes, and going all A Beautiful Mind on the team. The only way to snap Bar out of it is for Iris to allow herself to be abducted by a flying robo-samurai, apparently. Don’t think about it too hard.
Analysis: The Flash was the highest rated episode among all shows of the week for The CW, attracting 2.84 million viewers, which is up by a statistically insignificant amount over last year’s season premiere, but still put The Flash in last place in its time slot. Hey, at least it’s not hemorrhaging viewers like every other show in the Arrow-verse. The producers have promised us a return to a sunnier, happier Flash. Let’s hope so.
Legends of Tomorrow
The Legends have broken time. Only Rip and his Men in Blue (complete with their own memory-wiping lights) can put time back together again. Legends of Tomorrow is still the goofiest, most fun, most purely entertaining offering in the Arrow-verse. These are the characters with the largest personalities in some of the most ridiculous situations, and it works fantastically. Whether it’s Nate lending a hand in Central City (again, please give us the Cisco-Wally-Nate show), Ray being overqualified to develop the next dating/social media app, Sara chucking knives at her boss in a retail store that is just different enough not to get the producers sued, Mick finally getting his vacation in Aruba, or the whole team stealing back the Waverider, it is this squad of anti-heroes and not-quite-heroes that I am most looking forward to watching this season. Throw in a Back to the Future II plot line and the Legends rubbing Rip’s new Time Bureau the wrong way at every turn, and Legends of Tomorrow is off to a great start. With Matt Ryan’s Constantine slated to appear at some point this season, here’s hoping that the writers and producers dive into some of the more abstract, obscure, and overlooked corners of the DC Universe.
Analysis: Maybe it’s the aforementioned goofiness that has kept Legends of Tomorrow from garnering a larger audience and more widespread appeal, but I can’t figure out how Legends of Tomorrow lost about a million viewers from the season premiere of The Flash. Sure, The Flash is more well known and more mainstream, but Legends of Tomorrow is a lot more fun to watch. Legends of Tomorrow drew about 1.71 million viewers, a drop of about 5% from last season’s premiere, landing it pretty close to Supergirl‘s viewership numbers. We’ll see whether the brighter tone of Legends of Tomorrow will lift the show’s viewership over the more downtrodden disposition of the Girl of Steel by season’s end.
So, Arrow. I don’t know what to say, so I won’t say much. This episode felt very much like the writers and producers sat down with a clipboard and checklist. Provide answers from last season’s cliffhanger finale. Check! Tease this season’s villain. Check! Lots of acrobatics and ‘splodey stuff. Check and check!
Freed from the “five years in Hell” flashbacks and arc, Arrow is the show that had the most room and reason to re-invent itself going into this season. Season six of Arrow should feel like season one of the next chapter of Arrow. For better or worse, the season premiere really didn’t do that. This episode felt like it could have been any other episode of Arrow ever produced. Okay, maybe not from season one. That was a good season with some really great episodes. Lots of character work. Everything was still so new and fresh. So much undiscovered ground to explore. So many twists and turns. That’s the kind of season we should be getting, and we should have felt that shift right off the bat.
Analysis: Moved to a new night and time, Arrow drew the lowest number of viewers of the four Arrow-verse shows, bringing in about 1.52 million viewers. Like The Flash, this is statistically similar to the number of viewers from last season’s premiere, so it is unlikely that the move in the schedule had an impact. Looking across the board, three of the four Arrow-verse programs drew between 1.5 and 1.9 million viewers. How many of that 1.5 to 1.9 million viewers are still fully invested in the Arrow-verse as a whole, hanging on and watching shows they might otherwise turn off, if not for the fact that the programs are connected and that connection might be important come mid-season crossover time? How many are unique to each series? What does The Flash have that the others don’t, and how can Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and Arrow hope to find and capture it?
Which was your favorite of the four season premieres? Which are you most looking forward to this season? Or, are you among those starting to bail out of the Arrow-verse? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below, and be sure to join us on the GeekDad Facebook page all season long. Add your thoughts as you watch the episodes and in the days following each. We’ll be discussing these and other series all season long… same geek time, same geek channel.
Final Thought: I know we’re only two episodes in, but The Gifted is aces.