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Superheroes on TV: Family Matters 

Superheroes on TV: Family Matters
Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

Even heroes need a hero. Whether it’s blood relatives, or the family you choose on the road of life, these bonds are what can make our superheroes better. This week, we take a closer look at Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow as they all explore how bonds can be the foundation of success or failure.

Photo Credit: CBS
Photo Credit: CBS

There are no modifiers when it comes to Alex and Kara Danvers: They are sisters, period. When Kara is held captive in her own mind by a parasite called, “black mercy,” Alex does not hesitate to put her own life in danger to save Kara’s life. Alex even calls in reinforcements (Jimmy and Winn) so that when her sister wakes up, she will be surrounded by loved ones. What they don’t know is that Kara is trapped in a fantasy of what her life could have been like on Krypton with her family. Something she used to dream about when she first made it to Earth. The ever popular “what-could-have-been” vs “what-is” battle really makes our hero relate-able.

Not in a cheesy, contrite way. This inner battle plays at our most basic curiosities of “what if?” What if Krypton hadn’t been destroyed? What if you’d had more time with those you lost? Of course, the allure of being able to have a re-do of her past is not enough to trap Kara. Alex breaks through her consciousness and manages to sway Supergirl to choose her present reality over this fantasy land.

Though it is not just this sisterly love that is on display in the episode, “For The Girl Who Has Everything.” Jimmy stops Hank from unplugging Alex too soon, which gives her enough time to help Kara see the truth. Hank stops Alex from telling Kara that Astra, her aunt, died by her blade. When Alex confronts Hank about why he said that he killed Astra, he told her that he didn’t want Kara to look at her differently. “Even heroes need a hero,” he said. And on a lighter note, Hank reprised his doppelgänger role in order to fool Cat once again. Getting the Martian Manhunter to wear a skirt had to be influenced by someone for whom he cares deeply.

Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW
Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW

First off, I’d definitely like to hitch a ride to Earth-2 if that’s where Joe West is a lounge singer! The Flash‘s “Welcome to Earth-2” is one of those episodes that is a throwback to some of the best (and admittedly, silliest) parts of reading comics. One of the hardest things about having background knowledge of characters prior to their TV appearance is always wondering when the other shoe will drop. This week’s episode plays that “what-if” card in a totally different way than what we saw in Supergirl. We have always known that the name Caitlin Snow eventually becomes Killer Frost, but we’re forced to wait and see how these writers choose to tell that story.

With Earth-2, we don’t have to wait anymore. We get the chance to see a fully actualized world without the world-building we’ve invested into this show. Deathstorm and Killer Frost as the ultimate opposites attract couple; Deadshot as a bumbling, second-rate detective who can barely hold a gun; Joe West as a lounge singer! Have I already mentioned that? Forgive me, it’s just that now I really want that Supergirl/The Flash cross-over to be a musical. With Grant Gustin and Melissa Benoist’s Glee background coupled with Jesse L. Martin’s Broadway background, we would be in for quite a treat! A cross-over that was doubly confirmed as we see a flash of Supergirl as Barry, Cisco, and Harrison travel through the last breach on their way to Earth-2. (And did you SEE who Earth-2 Barry had on speed dial?! Hello, Justice League!) Alas, I digress…

As we navigate this new yet familiar world, one thing remains abundantly clear — Barry Allen would still do anything for Joe and Iris West. Despite Harrison chastising Barry because, “These people are not your family,” Flash doesn’t see it that way. In this timeline or any other, those familial bonds are not easily broken. This feeling of obligation, however, side tracks Barry and he ends up captured by Zoom instead of focusing on the task at hand; which was to save Harrison’s daughter, Jesse.

Photo Credit: Dean Buscher/The CW
Photo Credit: Dean Buscher/The CW

If we head back to Star City, the lines of family, friend, and foe have become so blurred that it’s getting harder to tell who stands where. Nyssa has the cure for Thea’s bloodlust, but she refuses to hand it over unless her “husband” kills Malcolm Merlyn. Oliver won’t kill Malcolm because he is Thea’s father, and Oliver knows the pain of losing a father. Felicity finds out that her absent father is The Calculator and now he wants to be part of her life, but she is reluctant; and where do I even start with both Nyssa and Laurel still torn up about Sara’s death then rebirth?

After more twists and double crosses than I could count, Felicity hands her father over to the authorities; Malcolm loses a hand and his title of Ra’s al Ghul; Nyssa disbands the League and give the serum to save Thea’s life; Malcolm gets into Damien Darhk’s pocket by telling him that Oliver’s weak spot is his son, William. Phew! While family can bring heroes back from the brink of death, family can, conversely, send them skyrocketing off the edge of a cliff. It seems no relationship is safe in Star City.

Photo Credit: The CW
Photo Credit: The CW

Though we don’t, exactly, have any familial connections on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, we have finally seen the beginnings of a cohesive unit. Martin Stein’s tough love speech to Jackson shows how hurt the professor still is over what happened with Ronnie Raymond. Sara and Kendra have a heart-to-heart as they help pull out the best in each other. Ray’s snark and Leonard’s charm make them a great duo…. Sort of. And Mick? Well, Kudos for dropping that line about Rocky IV? Listen, you can’t win them all.

But they finally start to WANT to work together after Marin is captured once they learn that the project Savage is working on is to build his own version of the Firestorm that he saw when they chased him through 1975. After everything falls apart and Rip refuses to send in the rest of the team to help, Snart takes issues with being left out to dry. So do Sara and Kendra. The fact that they wanted to be there for each other gives me hope that Legends is starting to find its legs. Hey, you go to war with the team you have. Bad guys, good guys, none of that matters when everyone’s shared world is at stake.

What sort of conclusions did you draw as you watched this week in Superhero TV? Here’s where you can follow along next week.

Supergirl airs Mondays at 8/7c on CBS
The Flash returns in “Escape From Earth-2” on Tuesday at 8/7c on The CW
Arrow is on Wednesdays at 8/7c on The CW
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow goes back to the U.S.S.R. on Thursday at 8/7c on The CW

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  1. MByerly

    No, who did Barry have on speed dial?

    LEGENDS continues to be a hot mess. The only characters who are good at stopping Savage are the bad guys. The good characters are a bunch of emotional idiots, and Rip is totally incompetent as a Time Master. The plot line is about as big a mess.

    Oliver and Amanda Waller, RIP, should give them a lesson in how being ruthless is often the best way to save more people.

    I had to snicker at Merlyn’s talking about how the League was doing good. This is the same man whose plan to “help” Starling City was to blow up the local ghetto and its people. Heaven save the world from that kind of “good.” Go, Nyssa.

    And we now have two new candidates for the grave in the future. William or his mother.

    1. Jasmin

      The phone didn’t have a keypad, it just had names like Hal, Bruce, Diana. Which seems like a pretty AWESOME indication that there could be some Justice League appearances in this TV in the future.

      Merlyn is definitely so crazy that he’s beyond reason. I’m not sure how he went from Thea devotee to “oh one person is not worth saving if it means the city suffers.”

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